Foods for Healthy Brain Aging
Latest Update as of August 2022
Wanna know how to keep your brain sharp and avoid dementia with certain foods? Go and write it down for your grocery list.
Whether it's because of their ability to fight harmful free radicals, keep the brain's blood vessels clean from debris or because of an evolutionary boost from plant-based chemicals, a variety of foods appear to gives a healthy edge to the aging brain.
Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef and nutrition specialist based in Boston, and the author of "This Is Your Brain on Food”, says that, “Optimizing our diet can support a healthier mood, a healthier brain and reduce inflammation – and also help with any inflammation associated with neurodegeneration and brain aging.”
To keep your brain strong as you age, an overall healthy eating pattern can help, especially when combined with an active lifestyle. Here’s the 7 Best Foods that will help older adults push back against cognitive decline.
1. Extra-virgin olive oil. The less processed version of olive oil is brain healthy. "It's linked to a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease because it increases the autophagy of cells," Naidoo said. "That's our own cellular cleanup process."
2. Select spices. "A hidden magic in our kitchen cabinet is spices," says Naidoo. Specifically, turmeric with a pinch of black pepper, cinnamon, saffron, rosemary and ginger "is really associated with brain-healthy nutrients (in terms of) adults and how they think." It's important to add black pepper when using turmeric "because it makes it at least 20 times more bioavailable to your body.
3. Fish for healthy fat. It is also considered important for brain health are wild sockeye salmon, anchovies and sardines which are the main sources of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA.
4. Nuts and seeds. "You can also get plant-based sources of omega 3 - things like walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed," says Naidoo. "These little seeds and nuts can be put on top of a salad or mixed into a smoothie."
5. Leafy greens. Swiss chard, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, arugula, spinach and other leafy greens contain vitamin B9 (folate). "Folate deficiency is associated with several neurological conditions," says Naidoo. "So improving folate has a positive benefit on both cognitive aging and brain health."
6. Rainbow fruits and veggies. Colorful vegetables like red peppers or fruits like blueberries are visually appealing and more. Containing phytonutrients and fiber, they "also interact positively with gut microbes," Naidoo explains. "And these gut microbes are very important in reducing inflammation in the body when we feed and nourish them properly." Inflammation in the gut travels back to the brain, she says. "We know there's this gut-brain connection, and we want to be careful about what we eat for that reason." w
7. Extra dark natural chocolate. This may also have brain benefits. "We want to make sure we're not just talking about sugar-laden candy bars," Naidoo said. However, "70% dark chocolate is rich in nutrients such as cocoa flavanols and magnesium."