Life is Like a Box of (Dark) Chocolate: Memory-Boosting Foods

Woodland Ridge Staff Alzheimer's and Dementia, Senior Health Tags: ,
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senior couple cooking brain healthy foods at home
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It’s no secret that having a nutritious diet is a significant part of maintaining your overall health and well-being. By eating a healthy and balanced diet, you can lose weight, have more energy, and sleep better. 

What people often don’t think about, though, is eating a healthy diet for your mind. Just as there is a connection between nutrition and physical health, there is a connection between nutrition and brain health. It’s been shown that a balanced diet full of brain-healthy foods can enhance cognitive function, improve focus, and even prevent age-related dementias.

Located in Smyrna, Georgia, Woodland Ridge encourages healthy eating and living. We’re sharing some foods you should eat to boost brain health and strengthen memory! 

You Are What You Eat 

Go Green with Brain Healthy Foods 

If you grew up watching Popeye, you know that spinach can do wonders for our physical health (maybe not to the same effect as it did for the legendary sailor, but wonders nonetheless). Did you also know that spinach is good for our brains, as well? 

Evidence shows that leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collards, and swiss chard, may be linked with keeping your brain sharp and slowing down cognitive decline. These vegetables are loaded with brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K and beta-carotene. According to experts, you should try to get at least six servings of leafy greens per week. 

If you’re looking for a way to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet, try using them in smoothies or blending them up for an easy pasta sauce! 

Go Nuts for Nuts! 

For those who are always on-the-go, nuts are an excellent snack choice that is not only full of protein but has been shown to promote brain health, as well. One study found that “eating nuts on a regular basis strengthens brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, memory, and other key brain functions (Science Daily).” 

For a fun and easy way to incorporate a variety of nuts into your diet, try making your own trail mix! The best nuts for a brain-healthy snack are walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. You can also include other ingredients like dried berries, pumpkin seeds, and yes, chocolate (more on that later). 

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Fishy  

Fatty and oily fish, like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are full of omega-3s, the protein known to lower the amount of damage to the brain of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3s have also been known to increase blood flow to the brain—improving cognition and thinking abilities. 

Not a fan of fish? Don’t worry; there are plenty of other sources of omega-3s. Most seeds, including chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds contain omega-3s and other nutrients. 

It’s The Berries 

Berries, especially dark-colored berries like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, have several known properties to promote healthy brain function. Berries contain antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and reduce oxidative stress in the brain, improving communication between brain cells. 

A great way to add more berries to your diet is to buy frozen berries and add them to smoothies. You can get a mixed berry pack with a variety of berries to try, and they will last longer than fresh berries. 

Go With The Grain 

Whole grains such as oats, barley, and quinoa are also brain-boosting foods. Not only are whole grains beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease, but they can also help foster cognitive thinking. These foods are rich in B vitamins, which can reduce inflammation in the brain and improve memory. 

A simple approach to eating more whole grains is to swap out your favorite carbs with the whole grain option. This includes products like pasta, bread, bagels, and other refined carb products. 

Indulge with Dark Chocolate 

Who said this list couldn’t have something sweet on it? Some studies have shown that dark chocolate can have the same effect on the brain as dark berries, including a boost in memory and cognitive function. Obviously this doesn’t mean that eating an entire Hershey’s bar every day is good for you, but a few squares of dark chocolate high in cocoa (70% or more) could produce some health benefits. 

Healthy Foods for a Healthy Brain

It can be challenging to change your entire diet overnight. Still, according to Anne Linge, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist, eating these nutritious foods can benefit you no matter what age you start eating them. “While there’s an increased risk of dementia in those above 65 years of age, research shows that changing your food intake can make a big difference, whether that’s starting as early as your 20s or not until your 50s and 60s,” she says (UW Medicine). 

By first understanding the relationship between nutrition and brain health, you can then begin to incorporate these highly-nutritious and brain-healthy foods into your diet, promoting a healthy and sharp mind. 

Woodland Ridge understands the importance of a nutritious and well-balanced diet, and we provide residents with delicious and healthy meals to promote physical health and mental health. 

For more information on our Smyrna, Georgia, community, and the services we offer, we invite you to visit our website!