6 foods for memory health

New research finding connect brain health with these foods:

New research shows that the brain can grow new neurons and stronger, more prolific connections between brain cells at any age. Here are things to include in your diet proven tokeep those neurons healthy.

Stereotypes would have you believe that memory loss is a part of growing old. In one survey of older people, it was ranked as the most-feared health problem — even ahead of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It's no wonder: until recently, the conventional wisdom said that memory glitches and fuzzy thinking couldn't be prevented — let alone fixed.

Scientists thought that brain cells simply died out, never to be replaced. And what's more frightening to envision than an old version of ourselves, physically healthy but with greatly diminished memories and mental skills? But today, the story is far more positive — and fascinating.

6 foods for memory health

1. Sip cocoa--another reason to indulge in chocolate.

When researchers at the University of Nottingham in England scanned the brains of 16 women who'd just finished mugs of specially-processed hot cocoa, they found that blood flow to some brain regions rose — and stayed high for two to three hours.

In their cups:

CocoaVia, a hot chocolate produced by candymaker Mars that's rich in flavonols, antioxidants also shown to improve blood flow to the heart. A piece of dark chocolate might do the trick as well.

2. Eat fish three times a week.

In recent studies, eating three fish entrées a week led to the highest DHA levels, but if you hate fin food, try fish-oil capsules. A 2006 Swedish study found that taking them cut the rate of mental decline in people with mild Alzheimer's disease.

Higher blood levels of an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexanoic acid (DHA) — found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel — cut dementia risk by 47 percent in a 2006 study of 899 older women and men conducted by Tufts University in Boston.

3. Sip 100 percent juice.

Antioxidants called polyphenols, which are in rich supply in 100 percent apple, grape, and citrus juices, protect the brain.

A daily glass of fruit or veggie juice lowered odds for Alzheimer's disease by a whopping 76 percent in a 2006 study of 1,836 women and men, conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

4. Have berries at breakfast.

Compounds in black currants and boysenberries seem to block cell damage that leads to Alzheimer's disease, say researchers at the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand. But other berries are equally rich in cell-protecting antioxidants.

While a healthy diet may not ever cure Alzheimer's, scientists say it could delay its onset or even prevent it from happening in the first place.

5. Enjoy a glass of red wine.

A glass for women, up to two for men, may cut your risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The reason? Experts suspect that compounds in red wine improve blood flow and cut your odds for blood clots — the same reasons that a moderate amount of alcohol can be good for your heart. But take it easy — overdoing it damages brain cells.

6. Dine on beans ‘n’ greens, broccoli and whole grains.

All are rich in folic acid, a B vitamin that improved memory and information-processing speed in a 2007 study of 819 women and men conducted by researchers at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

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