The Mediterranean diet does a brain good
Timolina/Shutterstock Nutrition as well as exercise impacts how our brain functions. The Mediterranean diet—rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish—was shown in a recent study to preserve more brain volume in older adults than those who didn’t follow the diet protocol. “Although more research needs to be done to determine exactly how this diet protects the brain, it is possible that the benefits such a diet has on reducing inflammation and improving vascular health may be the reason for the brain health benefits,” Palinski-Wade says. Check out these other 25 brain-boosting foods that keep you sharp.
Olive oil may help preserve memory
Elena Veselova/Shutterstock OIive oil is also an important part of the Mediterranean diet, and more new research has shown how that specific ingredient may boost the brain’s memory powers. (Here’s how olive oil staves off Alzheimer’s.) “A recent study found that compounds in extra-virgin olive oil may reduce brain inflammation as well as activate a process in which cells break down and remove debris and toxins,” Palinski-Wade says. “This process fights against the buildup of plaque and neurofibrillary tangles, which are suspected to contribute to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.” She recommends replacing animal-based fats with monounsaturated fat, like olive oil, to provide another layer of protection for brain health.
More food for thought
mubus7/Shutterstock What other foods can benefit brain health? Among the best brain foods is salmon, rich in omega-3s. “DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources have been found to be protective to the brain and contribute to improved memory function in older adults,” Palinski-Wade says. In addition, she says foods rich in vitamin C have been shown to reduce the impact of stress hormones, which can have negative effects on the brain. The overall message is to eat whole, healthy foods. “A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low in sodium, such as the DASH diet protocol, appears to be beneficial to the brain as it can help to reduce blood pressure, improve vascular health, and provide a diet rich in antioxidants that can be protective to neurons in the brain,” Palinski-Wade says. Don’t miss the other best foods for boosting brain health.