You are what you eat. Surely, you’ve heard that old adage as a witty quip before. But as it turns out, it’s truer than you think. Following an Alzheimer’s diet that can help prevent the disease and improve memory is well worth anyone’s time.
What you eat has a tremendous amount to do with your well-being, your comfort, and even your personality — so much so that if you choose your diet wisely, you can live longer and avoid such life-altering diseases as Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, such is the goal of the MIND Diet, an eating plan specifically created to prevent Alzheimer’s.
How does the MIND Diet work? It focuses on Superfoods. What are Superfoods you ask? Read on!
Superfoods That Fight Alzheimer’s
Superfoods is a term that refers to nutritionally-dense foods (mostly plant-based with a few protein and dairy thrown in). These foods are proven to be good for the body and/or the mind. The MIND Diet includes a massive amount of the Superfoods that are especially good at promoting a healthy brain and positive brain activity.
Below, we’ll go over all of the food groups included in the MIND Diet and why exactly they’re good for brain health and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Vegetables & Leafy Greens
At the top of the list are vegetables and leafy greens. These foods are wonderful for the brain because of their high levels of antioxidants.
Leafy greens should be eating regularly — with every meal, if possible. Six or more servings weekly offer the most positive benefits for the brain.In fact, basically any vegetable is good for you — but here are 4 types that you should make sure to get the most of:
Spinach & Kale
At the top of the leafy greens list are spinach and kale. High in vitamin K, these veggies and others have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in the brain and have been linked to better memory as well.
High in vitamin C and anthocyanins, radishes can boost brain health while also reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Need some other veggies to try? The cruciferous family has tons of winners, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Other Healthy Fats
Did you know that about 60 percent of your brain is made out of fat? As such, it makes sense that you need to “feed” you brain with fat as well. In this case, we’re talking omega-3 fatty acids — the type of fat that makes up about half the fat in your brain.
Here are the top omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods to look out for:
Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, and Sardines
All of these fish species are rich in omega-3s, which will boost brain activity, build new nerve cells, and help the brain learn and remember better.
Vegetarian or vegan? Make sure you’re getting your daily dose of beans to replace the fish in your diet. Nearly all beans are cock-full of monounsaturated fats. These help boost blood flow in the brain and provide numerous other bodily benefits.
Flax seed is super rich in omega-3s. Add ground flax to your baking or even on top of a salad for some added brain-food.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If you can cook the majority of your foods with extra virgin olive oil, you’ll be doing your brain a great service. Like fish, extra virgin olive oil contains the ability to protect memory, reduce the formation of amyloid-beta brain plaques, and improve learning ability.
Coffee, Chocolate, & Spices
It’s not all about fish and vegetables! Here are some other delicious foods to add to your brain-powering, anti Alzheimer’s diet:
Coffee with its high levels of caffeine and antioxidants, can help improve your mood, increase alertness, and sharpen your concentration.
What good luck, right? Dark chocolate contains antioxidants as well as caffeine and flavonoids, all of which boost the areas of the brain that deal with memory and learning.
Perfect for baking or on a sweet potato, cinnamon is rich in the brain-helping antioxidant, manganese. Try it on your whole wheat toast!
The curcumin in turmeric is especially good for your brain. It helps reduce inflammation and improves classic symptoms of depression, which may be linked to Alzheimer’s.
Fruits & Berries (Antioxidants)
Antioxidants are thriving in berries and several other fruits. This can be seen in their deep red, blue, and purple colors, which denote anthocyanins.
Blueberries, Strawberries, and Raspberries (Plus Cherries)
All berries are rich in antioxidants, but these three (plus cherries) especially protect against inflammation and oxidative stress, which can lead to neurodegenerative diseases. They can also improve brain cell communication.
Like berries and cherries, plums contain high levels of polyphenol antioxidants. Not only do these antioxidants help bone and heart health, but they can also reduce inflammation in the brain and prevent cell damage there.
Foods to Avoid
While there are numerous foods that can help your brain, there are also some that can hurt your brain’s health. Stay away from these five food groups:
Focus on lean meats if you’re going to eat meat (chicken or turkey, for example). Or, even better, make the protein in your meal a fish-based protein.
Butter and Margarine
Replace butter and margarine with extra virgin olive oil whenever possible. If you must have butter, use the real stuff instead of margarine.
Some cheese is okay, but your brain won’t thank you for it like your palate will! Therefore, it’s best to go light here, and focus on less calorie-dense cheeses like Swiss, Parmesan, and Mozzarella.
Pastries and Sweets
For your body and mind, sweets are like poison. In extremely small doses, it’s okay to have a piece of candy here and there, but this is a food group you should definitely stay away from — for your brain’s sake and to have a stronger liver and healthier body weight.
Fried and Fast Food
Finally, remember when we were talking about good fats to feed the brain? Well fried and fast foods contain bad fats. Avoid these foods and go for other cooking-techniques like baking, roasting, or pan-frying in light olive oil.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that you should aim to avoid at all costs. Research has proven that the Superfoods listed above can help you fight the risk of Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, they’re all delicious foods that can add variety and much flavor to your diet as well. Try some today and feel good knowing that you’re promoting a healthy brain and body!