These brain foods are packed with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that promote a strong memory and healthy diet for years to come
Ever notice that day-to-day stuff tends to slip your mind? Not remembering where you put your keys, the name of the person you just met a moment ago, or the combination to your new gym locker, are all signs that the demands of daily life are intruding on your ability to form new memories. The good news: A few tweaks to your diet could change everything. We’re always monitoring breakthroughs in nutritional research, including an exciting new study just released from Columbia University that links high concentrations of the flavanols in cocoa to reversed age-related mental decline in healthy older adults. (Chocolate, you’ll be happy to discover, stars in our definitive 50 Best Snack Foods in America.)
And we’ve uncovered a collection of everyday foods that you can throw into soups, pile on salads, and slip into your routine. Boosting your brain health and your memory has never been easier or more delicious!
Swapping peanut butter for almond butter might better your chances of beating age-related memory loss. Almonds (like many nuts and seeds) contain high concentrations of vitamin E, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment. And some studies indicate it can slow the decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Almond butter contains three times more Vitamin E than peanut butter. For a snack, you can spread a teaspoon over celery, or mix a spoonful into morning oats.
Leafy greens like spinach or broccoli are packed with vitamin K, which has been has been shown to improve verbal episodic memory—your ability to absorb and remember verbal instructions. Leafy greens also deliver high doses of folate, which works in tandem with vitamin B12 to help improve cognitive function for older adults. Since greens don’t contain vitamin B12, add some cheese or eggs (which do) to a spinach or Romaine salad and you’re good to go.
Ready to expand your horizons? The flavonoids in blueberries have been shown to improve spatial memory in rats. Their antioxidants help lessen inflammation, which can cause longer-term problems for the brain and its memory function, so sprinkle them over your oatmeal and stock up on frozen bags for smoothie making in the winter! Bonus: Among the things you’ll be remembering are all the compliments you get when people seek your sleek new shape. Berries are one of the Best Fruits That Boost Fat Loss.
Drink up. One study found that subjects who drank green tea before a cognitive-functioning test performed significantly better than those who drank a placebo. Researchers who monitored the brain function of those undergoing testing say that the green tea improved brain plasticity—basically, it allowed their brains to learn faster. While you’re showing off your flexible new brain, you can also flex your abs by drinking any of these 5 Best Teas for Weight Loss.
It might seem fishy, but DHA—a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in fattier fish like salmon and tuna—can improve memory and the time it takes to recall a memory. Researchers tested DHA supplements on a group of 176 adults who had low levels of omega-3s in their diets. (Most of us do, by the way.) Just 1.16 grams of DHA—about what you’d find in a 3.5 ounce serving of salmon—made a measurable difference.
Bright red and orange vegetables are top sources of a type of nutrient called carotenoids, which seem to improve cognition and memory over longer periods of time. One of the most powerful of these nutrients is lycopene, which is found in high doses in the skin of tomatoes. Lycopene also protects you from depression-causing inflammation, so working it into your daily diet can also boost your mood. Why cherry tomatoes, specifically? Because lycopene is concentrated in the skin, the little red buttons carry more per volume than their beefsteak brethren. Don’t forget to pile your salad high with more of the 11 Foods That End Bad Moods.
In a recent study, older subjects (70 years of age and older) were given a dose of beet juice, then hooked up to an MRI machine. The researchers discovered that the beet juice measurably improved blood flow to their brains. The secret: nitrates, which are found in beets, carrots and other brightly colored root vegetables, as well as some greens, and converted into nitrite in the body.
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