There are an estimated 47.5 million (World Health Organization: Dementia Fact Sheet) people worldwide who currently suffer from dementia. The latest U.S. study indicates that 8.8 percent (CNN: US dementia rates drop 24%) of people 65 or older will develop some form of this degenerative brain disease.
Fortunately, you have the opportunity to take proactive steps that can minimize your risk of suffering from dementia and other brain health related issues in the future. Daily exercise and keeping your mind active with mentally challenging and stimulating activities is important, but you also need to pay close attention to your diet. By eating the right fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, you can help safeguard your cognitive future.
A research study conducted by Tufts University discovered that blueberries are extremely helpful for boosting brain health and coordination. In fact, eating one cup of blueberries per day (Tufts University e-News: Researchers at Tufts University Report Blueberries May Reduce Memory Loss) was found to improve short-term memory and reverse motor function deficits. Blueberries are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, which makes them an excellent choice for a daily snack. Keep in mind that a cup of blueberries contains thirteen grams of sugar, so you may want to split your daily serving into two snacks if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia.
This cruciferous vegetable packs a powerful punch and is often referred to as a superfood. Not only does it offer a surprisingly large amount of Vitamin C but broccoli also contains choline and Vitamin K. Both of these nutrients are essential for brain health, and they are known to improve memory. (The Telegraph: Brain Food Six Snacks That Are Good for the Mind) Another great feature of broccoli is the high amount of folic acid in each serving. Evidence shows that folic acid may ward off Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s also useful for reducing depression.
This tasty fruit contains monounsaturated fat, crucial for maintaining a healthy blood flow. (WebMD: Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain) Avocados can also reduce risk of hypertension, one of the health factors that is known to directly contribute to cognitive issues. In other words, when you eat an avocado, you’re helping your brain stay strong. Please note that avocados are unusually high in calories for a fruit, so it’s best to cut them in half and enjoy them over a two-day time span.
Celery has much more to offer than a satisfying crunch; it’s also packed full of the flavonoid luteolin. Flavonoids help cells fight off the aging process, and they also reduce inflammation in the body. Another nice perk of adding celery to your diet is that there is some evidence that luteolin can help combat neurological diseases. (Huffington Post: Can Celery Keep Your Brain in Shape?) It’s important to note that reducing inflammation is one of the best ways to retain cognitive functionality.
Much like broccoli, spinach is rich in Vitamin K. This means that adding a single serving of spinach to your daily routine could slow or prevent cognitive decline as you get older. Researchers from Chicago’s Rush University took a close look at the dietary habits and cognitive functionality of more than 950 elderly individuals. During this study, they discovered that eating spinach every day provides people with the same level of mental clarity and cognitive skills as someone more than a decade younger who doesn’t eat leafy greens. (Huffington Post: Eating a Serving of Spinach Every Day Could Make Your Brain 11 Years Younger) In other words, spinach has the potential to keep your brain health much younger than your actual age.
If you’re not a fan of celery, you can get the same luteolin benefits by eating carrots instead. Again, a study has shown that increasing your intake of luteolin can reduce brain inflammation. As a result, it’s easier to retain and recall information.(LiveScience: Plant Compound in Carrots Boosts Brain Health) Memory loss is one of the first signs of cognitive decline, so warding it off is something that everyone should strive for as part of their overall wellness goals. After all, getting physically healthy is only half the battle if you want a long and enjoyable life.
As it turns out, an apple a day really may be able to keep the doctor away. This fruit is loaded with important nutrients that can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. As an added bonus, apples include a hearty amount of quercetin which is concentrated in the skin of the fruit. This antioxidant acts as a defensive barrier between your brain cells and attacks from free radicals. (CNN: 10 Foods to Help Boost Your Brain Power) Getting enough quercetin on a daily basis can prevent cognitive decline.
All of the vegetables and fruits mentioned above have enough nutrients to provide a wide variety of health benefits. Therefore, they’re great for boosting your brain health, and they’ll also help you in numerous other ways such as giving you a lower cancer risk. If you’re struggling to get the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, be sure to check out 10 creative and healthy ways to cook them.
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