Feb 19, 2016

Seven Super Brain Foods

Whether it is a new dance or a foreign language, the older you get the harder it is to learn new things. Some foods have been found to be beneficial to keeping the brain sharp. Alzheimer's researchers like to say what is good for your heart is good for your brain.

Blackberries can get the conversation flowing again. They provide potent antioxidants known as polyphenols that zap inflammation and encourage communication between neurons, improving our ability to soak up new information according to a Tufts University study.

A recent Finnish study of 1,400 longtime coffee drinkers reveals that people who sipped between three to five cups of coffee a day in their 40s and 50s reduced their odds of developing Alzheimer's disease by 65 percent compared with those who downed fewer than two cups a day. Researchers believe that coffee's caffeine and antioxidants are the keys to its protective affects.

Apples are a leading source of quercetin, an antioxidant plant chemical that keeps your mental juices flowing by protecting your brain cells. According to researchers at Cornell University, quercetin defends your brain cells from free radical attacks which can damage the outer lining of delicate neurons and eventually lead to cognitive decline. To get the most quercetin bang for your buck, eat apples with the skins on.

Chocolate can lower blood pressure and it can also keep your mind sharp. A Journal of Nutrition study found that eating as little as one-third of an ounce of chocolate a day (the size of about two Hersey's kisses) helps protect against age-related memory loss. They credit polyphenols in cocoa with increasing blood flow to the brain.

Cinnamon research from the University of California at Santa Barbara reveals that two compounds in cinnamon, proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde may inactivate tau proteins that can cause brain cells to die.

Spinach is packed with nutrients that prevent dementia, such as folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Just one-half cup of cooked spinach packs a third of the folate and five times the amount of vitamin K you need in a day. A 2006 Neurology study revealed that eating three servings of leafy green, yellow, and cruciferous vegetables a day can delay cognitive decline by 40 percent. Of these three, leafy greens were found to be the most protective. Try spinach drizzled with a little olive oil. Its healthy fats boost absorption of fat-soluble vitamins E and K.

Scientists found the heart-healthy polyphenols in red wine and Concord grape juice can also give your brain a boost. When researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine gave twelve older adults with declining memory a daily drink of Concord grape juice or a placebo drink for three months, they found that the volunteers who drank the grape juice significantly improved their spatial memory and verbal learning skills. Researchers believe that, just like blackberries, grape juice polyphenols improve communication between brain cells.