By Kristie Collado
The Daily Meal
"Brain fog" is a fairly common experience: Most of us have had days when we can't concentrate, much less remember where we left our cell phone and car keys. In most cases, a brain-boosting snack or a few minutes of rest and relaxation is all it takes to restore normal brain functions. But for some people, symptoms like confusion, forgetfulness, and trouble thinking or understanding become more frequent (and more serious) as they age. Several studies have shown that eating certain nutrient-dense foods can help protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of mental and cognitive decline. Help keep your mind sharp with these good-for-you ingredients.
We’re all familiar with the roles that sleep, exercise, and mental activity play in keeping our brains healthy. Living a physically active lifestyle, engaging in mentally stimulating activities that promote continued learning, and getting plenty or rest at night can help ward of the effects of an aging brain. it’s less often that we hear about the anti-aging effects of vitamin- and nutrient-dense foods, but adding certain ingredients to our diets can go a long way in helping to age-proof our brains.
Foods That Age-Proof Your Brain
Whether you sprinkle it on roasted sweet potatoes or stir a pinch into hearty beef chili, cinnamon is a delicious way to help ward off Alzheimer ’s disease. In a study published in the online journal PLoS One, cinnamon was shown to counteract Alzheimer's-associated changes. Click here for The Daily Meal's best cinnamon recipes.
Eggs are a good source of a number of nutrients that make for brain health, but they're also a great way to get more choline into your diet. Choline is an essential nutrient that impacts brain development, even as we age. Click here for The Daily Meal's best egg recipes.
Cooking with lentils is an easy way to get more soluble fiber into your diet. We often hear about fiber as an important factor in weight control and the prevention of weight-related diseases. Recent research suggests, however, that fiber may have other benefits, too -- like helping to improve memory. Click here for The Daily Meal's best lentil recipes.
Many studies have demonstrated the role of omega-3 fatty acids in preventing cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Make sure you’re getting enough omegas by cooking with olive oil. Click here for more on cooking oils.
One major factor in long-term brain health is the prevention of free radical damage, and antioxidants — some of them found in pomegranates — do just that. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on oatmeal and salads or use pomegranate juice in sauces and marinades to boost your antioxidant intake. Click here for The Daily Meal's best pomegranate recipes.
Another great source of omega-3s, salmon is also a delicious way to get more B vitamins. Vitamin B deficiency has been linked to certain types of dementia. Eat more salmon with these delicious recipes.
Rich in antioxidant vitamin E, sunflower seeds can help protect your brain from cognitive decline. Try sprinkling shelled sunflower seeds into soups, salads, and stir-fries, or buy sunflower butter for smoothies and sandwiches. Click here for The Daily Meal's best sunflower seed recipes.
Not surprisingly, a balanced diet rich in whole and wholesome foods -- fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein -- provides our brains with the nutrition they need to stay healthy. If you’re looking to give your brain an extra measure of protection against Alzheimer’s and dementia, try cooking more often with ingredients that are rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E, soluble fiber, and healthy fats. Studies show that these nutrients may reduce some of the negative effects of an aging brain.