Just as there is no one thing that can prevent cognitive decline, there is no single food that can ensure a sharp brain as you age. However, doctors and nutritionists alike, emphasize that the most important strategy is to follow a healthy diet over time that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, healthy fats, fish and whole grains.
With that said, there are definitely certain foods which are particularly rich in healthful components like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants, which support brain health as research has shown. According to the Mayo Clinic, incorporating these foods into a healthy diet and eliminating some others on a regular basis can improve the health of your brain, which could translate into better mental functionality and reduce the chance for Alzheimer’s disease.
Research from a combination of sources, such as the Mayo Clinic and Healthline, shows that the below food groups are the best for getting your brain what it needs to stay healthy:
- Green Leafy Vegetables – kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene.
- All Vegetables – non-starchy vegetables as their nutrients have lower number of calories
- Fatty Fish – these have an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids and healthy unsaturated fats but choose varieties that are low in mercury, such as salmon or canned light tuna.
- Berries – full of flavonoids, the natural p lant pigments that give berries their vivid colors are the same ones to help improve memory.
- Nuts – an excellent sources of protein and healthy fats for brain health. Walnuts in particular help with memory retention.
- Tea and Coffee – research has shown that appropriate amounts of caffeine improve overall mental performance and might help solidify new memories.
- Beans- High in fiber and protein, and low in calories and fat, they also help keep your mind sharp
- Wine – Specifically the red wine compound resveratrol, which has shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease
- Olive Oil – when used as primary oil at home, research shows a greater protection against cognitive decline
- Poultry – as a good source of protein a few times a week
Research also shows that the below food groups are ones to avoid or severely limit your consumption because they contain saturated fats and trans fats.
- Butter and margarine – Instead, use olive oil as your primary cooking fat, and dipping your bread in olive oil with herbs.
- Cheese – limit this consumption to once a week at most
- Red meat – includes all beef, pork, lamb and products made from these meats.
- Fried food – highly discouraged in general but if you cannot eliminate, steer clear of fast food restaurants and limit to less than 1/week
- Pastries and sweets – processed desserts such as ice cream, cookies, donuts, candy and more.