The foods you consume every day can improve your cognitive function as well as potentially help prevent Alzheimers and other forms of memory loss in your later years. Which foods keep your brain in top working condition? Here are the top choices, and why you should work them into your diet.
People who have higher blood levels of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel) have a 47% lower risk of dementia than those with the lowest levels, reported a Tufts University study of about 900 older women and men. Eating fish three times a week led to the highest DHA levels.
Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils are all rich in folic acid, a B vitamin that improved memory and information-processing speed in a study of more than 800 women and men conducted by researchers in the Netherlands.
Fruits and veggies
A French study of 1,640 healthy women and men reported that participants who ate the most flavonoidsantioxidants found in fruits and vegetables as well as in coffee, tea, chocolate, and winehad the smallest drops in brain functioning over 10 years.
While upping your total intake of produce can help, loading up on blueberries is a particularly good idea. They may have the chemical power to create new pathways for connection in the brain. The number of these connectors tends to drop off with age, but in animal studies, eating blueberries has been shown to help restore them, says Jim Joseph, Ph.D., director of the neuroscience lab at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University.
When researchers at the University of Nottingham, England, scanned the brains of 16 women whod just finished a cup of cocoa, they found that blood flow to some brain regions roseand stayed highfor two to three hours. This study used a blend of cocoa thats not available commercially, but research suggests that cocoa and other forms of dark chocolate available in markets may have similar powers.
Prefer coffee to cocoa? Swedish and Finnish researchers found that moderate coffee consumption (three to five cups a day) cut dementia risk 65%.