Food for a Heathy Brain

Blueberries help protect your memory.

Blueberries help protect your memory.

The foods you choose to eat are usually based on how they will affect your waistline, your energy level and your taste buds. There are some specific foods, however, you may want to add to your diet simply for the way they affect your brain. Feeding your brain will help improve its function now and protect it from future decline.

Walnuts

Eating walnuts may help you fight off the negative effects aging has on the brain. Including walnuts in your diet can improve your memory and learning ability and decrease inflammation in your body, according to a study in the Aug. 12, 2010 issue of the "Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry." In their study, researchers found rats that consumed walnuts had a decrease in the death of brain proteins. Proteins in the brain connect the brain's nerves and give you the ability to focus. The benefits of walnuts to the brain are believed to come from their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.

Fish

Fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, sardines and trout. The beauty of fatty fish is that they are high in omega-3 fatty acids. According to a study in the May 2010 issue of "Current Alzheimer Research," the main omega-3 fatty acid is DHA, and increasing DHA intake improves your brain's learning ability and memory skills. The May 2011 issue of "Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics" stated that eating fish may help prevent brain decline that happens with aging, reducing your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia.

Blueberries

Blueberries are easy to add to your diet. Toss some on your cereal or yogurt, or eat a handful of them plain. According to a report in the April 2010 issue of "Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica," blueberries protect your brain from neurodegeneration, a slow loss of brain neurons that can affect memory and brain function, as well as increase the risk for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Chocolate

If you are a chocolate lover, there is another reason to enjoy every bite. The July 10, 2012 issue of the "British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology" reported that cocoa contains beneficial compounds called flavonoids that protect your brain in numerous ways. Cocoa flavonoids improve blood flow to the brain, reduce risk of stroke, improve memory, increase learning ability and lower risk of developing age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's. If you wonder why you always gravitate to chocolate when you need comfort, the study also states that chocolate works in the brain to positively affect your mood. Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa flavonoids, which makes it a better choice than milk chocolate.

 

About the Author

A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."

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