Protecting our brain health is important, especially as we age. The good news is that scientific evidence shows a link between certain foods and better cognition, or thinking abilities. In other words, we can eat to improve our brain power.
Research shows the best foods for our brains are also the ones that protect our heart and blood vessels. They are known to be especially rich in healthful components like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and other antioxidants that promote blood flow and brain health. Try adding these foods to your diet on a regular basis.
8 Superfoods to Charge Your Brain:
Avocados – The healthy unsaturated fat in avocados supports the brain and combats cognitive decline. They are loaded with several of the brain’s most valued nutrients, including folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and copper. Try avocados on a salad, sandwich or as a dip and indulge as often as possible to boost your brainpower.
Blueberries – The antioxidant compounds in blueberries have been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and throughout the body. Research also shows the fruit may help protect the brain from the damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Enjoy blueberries every day in your morning smoothie or as a topping for cereal or yogurt.
Coffee – Beyond boosting alertness, your “cup of joe” has been shown to improve memory and potentially decrease the risk of dementia. Coffee is also a source of antioxidants, which may support brain health as we age. If you’re not a coffee drinker, try black or green teas, which also have brain-boosting antioxidants.
Dark Chocolate – Here’s a dessert to feel good about! Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are strong antioxidants that can improve blood flow to the brain. Research also shows that dark chocolate can combat fatigue and the effects of aging, while boosting your mood, focus and alertness. For the greatest benefits, eat dark chocolate with a high cacao content (72% or greater). It’s low in sugar and still tastes great.
Leafy Greens – There’s a reason we should eat our greens every day. Rich in the antioxidant lutein, spinach – packed with vitamin E, vitamin K and folate – has been shown to help boost memory function. Beyond spinach, greens like kale, collards and mustard greens may also be effective in slowing down the brain’s aging process. In a smoothie, salad, sautéed or stir-fried, dark leafy greens are a delicious way to support our brain health.
Oily Fish – Fatty fish like salmon are the ultimate brain food. Diets higher in essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are found in salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines, have been linked with a lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and slower mental decline. In addition, they produce serotonin, the good mood brain chemical. Enjoy fatty fish two or three times a week to feel better and support your brain health.
Walnuts – With almost twice as many antioxidants as other nuts, walnuts are full of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrients and are a good source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which helps promote blood flow for efficient delivery of oxygen to the brain. Walnut consumption may also improve memory. In a 2015 study from UCLA, walnut consumption was linked to improved cognitive test scores. Sprinkle walnuts over salads and yogurt. Mix them into muffins. Or just grab a handful during the day for a snack packed with protein.
Whole Grains – Whole grains like brown rice, barley, bulgur wheat, oatmeal and whole-grain bread and pasta are rich in many B vitamins that work to reduce inflammation of the brain, potentially preserving your memory. Choose whole grains with a low glycemic index, that release glucose slowly into the bloodstream to keep your brain alert throughout the day.
At Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge the health and nutrition of our community is a priority. In our culture of wellness, these superfoods and more are on our menus every day.
Our five-star dining experience features market-fresh ingredients available year-round. We proudly serve foods sourced from local farms and orchards – planted, grown and harvested locally with grass-fed, pastured livestock and poultry whenever available.