Even sitting still, your brain uses up around twenty percent of the calories your body burns. Healthy neurons need healthy cell walls and good blood flow to help the brain function at its best. The nutrients you give your brain through diet and supplements can make a big difference in how how well your memory and focus functions. Read on for the latest tips for your diet, along with a brain healthy salad recipe!
Blueberry for Brain
Earlier studies found blueberries improved memory, but the large dose-amount of fruit in them was impractical. In this study, 37 men and women aged 60 to 75 took 24 grams of freeze-dried blueberry—equal to one cup of fresh blueberries—per day, or a placebo. After 90 days, while the placebo group had not changed, those taking blueberry had far fewer errors in a verbal learning test, and increased mental flexibility in a test of executive function—the processes that guide thought and behavior—compared to the start of the study.
Reference: European Journal of Nutrition; 2018, Vol. 57, No. 3, 1169-80
Grape, blueberry polyphenols
Doctors in this study included 215 healthy men and women, aged 60 to 70, with mild to advanced cognitive decline, excluding others with powerful recall abilities, those who consumed lots of polyphenols from fruits, tea, and dark chocolate, and those taking omega-3 supplements, all of which might improve memory. Participants took a placebo or 300 mg of polyphenol extract from grapes and blueberries, per day.
After six months, those taking polyphenols had improved their ability to recall random items from a list. Looking at participants with the most advanced cognitive decline, those in the polyphenol group were better able to recall the times, places, and emotions associated with events they had experienced.
Reference: Journals of Gerontology; Biological and Medical Sciences; July 2018, Published Online
Fruits & Veggies for Cognition
This long-term study measured the diets of 27,842 men, average age 51, over a 20-year period. Every four years, the men reported the previous year’s diet and any changes in memory and cognition. Doctors assessed cognition at average age 73.
Overall, men who consumed the most vegetables were 34 percent less likely to have developed cognitive decline compared to men who got the least. Those who drank orange juice daily were 47 percent less likely compared to those who drank OJ less than once a month, and eating more fruit was also beneficial. Leafy greens, dark orange and red vegetables, and berry fruits had the strongest links to good cognition.
Reference: Neurology; November, 2018, Published Online
Green Leafy Brains
Eating one to two servings per day of green leafy vegetables may help slow the natural age-related decline in cognitive abilities. In this study, doctors measured the diets of 960 men and women, aged 58 to 99 at the start of the study, and followed up for 4.7 years.
Those who got at least 1.3 servings of green leafy veggies per day had a cognitive decline rate of a person 11 years younger. Doctors noted key antioxidant nutrients in leafy greens and other foods that may provide this cognitive benefit, including alpha-tocopherol, folate, kaempferol, lutein, nitrate, and phylloquinone (vitamin K).
Reference: Neurology; 2018, Vol. 90, No. 3, e214-22
Blueberry Spinach Salad
While you are munching this delicious salad, please see page 1 for a new study that found older men and women who ate a daily serving of blueberries for 90 days had better verbal learning and mental flexibility.
1/4 c raspberry vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c avocado oil
10 oz fresh organic baby spinach (~12 cups)
1 c fresh organic blueberries
1 c crumbled blue cheese (or vegan cheese)
1/2 c pecans, chopped and toasted
Directions: Whisk first 4 dressing ingredients, then gradually whisk in oil until blended. Combine washed and dried salad ingredients and toss with dressing.
Pecans are easily toasted in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or heat in a cast iron skillet on low until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Serves 8.
BetsyHealth’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. Not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before starting a supplement, especially if you take prescription or over-the-counter medications or have any medical conditions (including pregnancy or nursing).
Article copyright 2019 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.