Good afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s. I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.
Today’s topic is “10 Foods to Cut Your Risk of Alzheimer’s.”
The foods you choose to eat affect more than your stomach and energy levels. They also can impact how well your brain functions today and tomorrow. According to Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist and adjunct professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Brain Health Center, “The brain’s neurons, or brain cells, can become rigid as you age, which means they don’t translate information very well to each other. One way to keep those brain cells communicating quickly and correctly, improving memory and lowering your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as you get older, is to add certain foods to your diet.”
Here are some foods that, when added to your diet, can help boost your brain power.
A study on mice in a 2012 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed that extra virgin olive oil could improve learning and memory. “Olive oil is also the cornerstone of a heart-healthy diet, and good cardiovascular health is known to help brain health,” says Rebecca Katz, co-author of The Healthy Mind Cookbook. Adding olive oil to your diet is simple. Use it in salad dressing, sauté meats and vegetables in it and even trickle it on top of your soup.
Some of the best foods for keeping your brain sharp contain omega-3 fatty acids. Your body doesn’t create omega-3 fatty acids. You have to consume them. One of the most popular ways to do that is by eating salmon. Sardines and anchovies also are great sources of omega-3s. You don’t have to buy fresh fish to reap the rewards. Canned versions are just as healthy.
Dark fruits, like blueberries and blackberries, are packed with antioxidants. According to Nussbaum, “Antioxidants should be thought of as a broom that sweeps out dust from the garage. The dust particles in your body are known as free radicals, which can cause damage wherever they go, including in the brain. And just like omega-3 fatty acids, your body doesn’t create antioxidants, so you have to eat foods that have them.” You can munch on fresh berries, use frozen berries for making smoothies or boil them down with water and a squeeze of lemon juice and spoon it over yogurt.
A 2013 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that supplementing B vitamin can slow the shrinking of the brain that’s associated with Alzheimer’s. Loaded with B vitamin and iron, this vegetable comes in various colors and are relatively quick and easy to prepare. Boil them for 20 minutes with a cinnamon stick, several garlic cloves and oregano sprigs. Drain and use them as a salad topper.
The nitrates found in beets increases the blood flow to your brain, which is directly linked to how well your brain functions. They also contain folate (B9), which may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. You can roast them, put them on your salad along with some goat cheese or shred raw beets and add them to a cabbage and carrot slaw.
This dark, leafy green vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains 45 different flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that might get rid of the “cobwebs” in your brain. Kale is also rich in vitamin K, which boosts your memory. You can sauté it, add it to a frittata, use it in a salad in place of romaine or blend it into a smoothie.
This vegetable is part of the mustard family of plants. It’s laden with folate and the antioxidant vitamin C, both of which improve brain functioning. A research review in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that eating a healthy amount of vitamin C can help protect your brain against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. This versatile vegetable can be roasted or mashed. It also can stand in for rice if it’s steamed and pulsed in a food processor.
A study in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that walnuts improve learning and memory in mice. Buy them pre-roasted and unsalted, add them to salads or yogurt or snack on them right out of the bag. If you don’t like the walnuts’ natural taste, toss them with cinnamon and allspice and then toast them for about eight minutes to give them more flavor.
When most people think about omega-3 fatty acids, fish is the first thing that comes to mind. Pasture-raised lamb, however, also has a healthy share of them. According to Katz, “…it also has B vitamins to help prevent cognitive decline.” Buy it ground and use it instead of beef in sliders or meatballs. A0dd some Middle Eastern spices like cumin, coriander and cinnamon. “You don’t need a lot of meat,” says Katz. “Four ounces will go a long way toward boosting your brain health.”
Any list of antioxidant-rich foods also includes green tea. Researchers from the University of Michigan have found that an element in green tea helps stop plaque growth in the brain that’s connected to Alzheimer’s. Drink it hot (a cinnamon stick and orange peel can boost the flavor) or make it iced and sweeten it with a little papaya juice.
That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope you found this information helpful.
Join me next time for more about Demystiying Alzheimer’s.