When it comes to your diet and remaining healthy, it’s important to eat smart – literally.
“Your brain is a machine, and just like any other machine, it needs clean, good fuel to burn in order to run as smoothly as possible,” says Angel Van Horn, Community Relations Specialist at Park Manor, the most trusted retirement community in Nashville, TN. “Eating foods that have been proven to boost or maintain brain health is one of your best lines of defense when it comes to reducing your risk of dementia.”
What you might not know, says Angel, is that even for those who have dementia, it’s important to eat brain-healthy foods. “We’ve seen that eating good, healthy options can reduce or maintain their level of cognitive decline,” she says. “In other words, it’s never too late to gain the benefits of eating well, no matter how old, young, or mentally sharp you are.”
In honor of June being Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, we’ve put together some information about brain superfoods, how they help cognitive function and easy ways for you to add them into your daily diet.
The Best Brain Superfoods for Fighting Dementia
Sometimes the tips and tricks for “staying healthy” may make you feel like you have to keep a detailed spreadsheet of everything you can/can’t/should/maybe shouldn’t do. Luckily, when it comes to “eating right” for your brain, you don’t really have to do anything differently than if you’re just trying to eat a healthy diet overall. The foods that keep your brain healthy are the same foods that keep your bones, muscles and everything else healthy. While there are some specific vitamins and minerals that are more geared to “brain health” than others, you can feel good about your overall diet and overall health if you take the time to add these seven superfoods onto your plate.
Leafy greens & cruciferous vegetables
Mother always said to eat your vegetables, and for good reason. Not only are they tasty, but they’re also high in essential vitamins like folate and B9 – two vitamins that have been proven to boost cognition and reduce depression. When it comes to the greens that pack the biggest punch, darker is better. Spinach, collard greens, broccoli, Swiss chard, cauliflower and the popular kale are some of the best choices you can make for your plate.
How to get more leafy greens in your diet: A big salad with a variety of greens is always a good way to get your dose of leafy veggies, but you can also add a big handful of greens to stews, soups and chili to add texture and taste. You can also puree vegetables along with sauces, hummus and pesto for some sneak nutrition. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, are delicious when roasted in the oven or sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
Lucky us – summertime is the perfect time for berries, which are a practically perfect food for helping reduce inflammation and packing your body with antioxidants. Berries like cherries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries contain something called anthocyanin, which is a flavonoid that can help halt the progression of brain damage that’s been triggered by free radicals. The antioxidants and vitamins found in berries don’t hurt, either.
How to add more berries to your diet: Enjoy a summertime smoothie for breakfast in place of a bowl of cereal. You can also throw a handful of berries on a salad or even on a scoop of ice cream for a burst of flavor. You can freeze berries and add them to your water (or adult beverage of choice), or simply have a bowl in the fridge to munch on when you want a snack.
Nuts & seeds
Oh, nuts! They’re packed with healthy fats, vitamins and magnesium, which are all proven to promote good cognition, reduce brain inflammation and ward off mental decline. It’s been proven that women over the age of 70 who eat at least 5 servings of nuts a week have better brain health than others who don’t eat the same amount of nuts. Plus, they’re packed with protein and are an awesome snack. Seeds like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds provide vitamin E, zinc, omega-3s, and choline, which also help improve brain health.
How to get more nuts in your life: Throw a handful on a salad (noticing a pattern here?) or add some natural nut butter (no sugar or salt added) into a smoothie. Pair nuts with some cheese and fruit for a light and filling lunch or snack. However, steer clear of eating too many nuts (they are calorie dense) and choose options that are natural or dry roasted without added flavorings or salt.
These fatty acids are most commonly found in fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon, but they’re also present in olive oil and flax seeds (among others). These healthy fats have been proven to help fight and prevent dementia and are definitely a part of a healthy diet.
How to get more omega-3s: Swap vegetable oil for olive oil whenever possible and eat more fish when possible. Avocados are especially high in omega-3, and are a delicious addition to salads, smoothies or on their own with salt and olive oil.
Spices are the real superfood in this bunch – they’re easy to add to meals without adding bulk or calories, and they have amazing benefits. Cinnamon, turmeric, sage and cumin are just some of the spices that are proven to help reduce brain inflammation, boost memory and even eat away at brain plaque. They’re also delicious and can add an exotic depth to your everyday meals.
How to eat more spices: Get creative in the kitchen. Look for recipes that feature different spices, or have fun experimenting with different spices to see how they can jazz up your everyday dishes.
If you have more questions about how superfoods benefit brain health, please contact us at 615.277.1107.
Love Where You Live!
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Do I love where I live?” If you ask that question of the residents of Park Manor, Nashville’s premier retirement community, the answer would be a resounding, “Yes!” For over 50 years, Park Manor has served Nashville’s seniors by providing a community designed to support an active, independent, secure, healthy and worry-free lifestyle. Located on seven spacious acres in the desirable Nashville neighborhood Belle Meade, we’re proud to provide a lifestyle our residents love each and every day.
Park Manor’s approach to senior living is simple: exceed our residents’ expectations. We strive to provide everything you could possibly need and want to live your life the way you choose. At Park Manor, you will enjoy a standard of living reminiscent of a luxury resort – but it’s not a vacation – it’s your lifestyle! This commitment is why we are held in such high regard by our surrounding community and are known as the premier retirement community offering independent living and assisted living lifestyles.
For seniors requiring memory care, Park Manor is associated with the prestigious Abe’s Garden® Memory Care Center of Excellence. Abe’s Garden® is committed to transforming the care of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by establishing a national model of residential living and day care programs for those suffering from the disease. Abe’s Garden® provides an unprecedented level of care in addition to a comprehensive array of services and lifestyle options.
At Park Manor, your continued independence is our top priority. Enjoy living life as you choose ... in the comfort and privacy of your own apartment, while having the peace of mind of knowing help is available if and when you need it.
For more information, please call 615.277.1107.