Food for Thought

Nicole Leote- Staff Writer    

What do seeds, nuts, whole grains, salmon, avocado, dark chocolate, blueberries, tea and peanut butter all have in common? They are all “smart” foods for your brain. These foods can help maintain a healthy brain, improve memory and even help prevent diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I am not saying eating a piece of salmon will give you brain power within a day, but implementing these smart foods into your daily diet can significantly improve physical health and brain health.
Firstly, vitamin E is an antioxidant that may help protect neurons or nerve cells. Foods that have a good amount of vitamin E include vegetable oil-based salad dressings, seeds, nuts, peanut butter and whole grains. Whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice, are also fiber rich and can reduce the risk for heart disease. It is suggested to consume foods rich in vitamin E instead of taking a vitamin E supplement to really gain the benefits. Each of these foods has additional health benefits beyond being rich in vitamin E, giving you all the more reason to consume them. Dark leafy greens are also rich in vitamin E and high in folate. Some examples include spinach, kale and broccoli. One cup of raw spinach has 15 percent of your daily intake of vitamin E. Unfortunately, most Americans are deficient in vitamin E.
One food that is essential for brain function is fish. Deep-water fish, including salmon, mackerel and tuna, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). DHA is very important for normal functioning of neurons. Blueberries are a very important food and are considered a super food because of their vast benefits. Research has found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s. The science behind the research can be complicated but the nutrients in blueberries and various other berries help rid the body of toxic proteins associated with age related memory loss and improve overall health. Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health even though it is a fatty fruit. The fats in avocados are monounsaturated and healthy for the body and brain. These fats contribute to healthy blood flow, which means the brain receives ample blood and is able to function properly. Avocados can also help lower blood pressure, decreasing the risk of hypertension, which is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities. One-fourth to half an avocado a day is beneficial.
Dark chocolate is a surprising food to help with brainpower and memory. Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants and natural stimulants to enhance focus and concentration. It also contains endorphins, which help improve mood. This is one super food that should be eaten in moderation. About 1/2 – 1oz a day will suffice. On top of all of these foods, exercise will always be a recommendation for a healthy lifestyle and it is just as important as a healthy diet when it comes to a memory-saving lifestyle changes. Research shows that adding these smart foods and exercise to a daily lifestyle can increase the chances of maintaining a healthy brain and improving memory.

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