What we eat promotes or stops cognitive decline. In the eyes of US neurologists Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, nutrition is, therefore, the most crucial lifestyle factor in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Here they show the best and worst foods for the brain.
A brain-healthy diet is particularly close to the heart of the Alzheimer’s experts from California’s Linda Loma University. “As doctors and researchers concerned with their patients’ lifestyles, we cannot stress enough the importance of nutrition for brain health,” Dean and Ayesha Sherzai write in the foreword to their book “The Alzheimer’s Solution.
And they list the 20 most important of these foods. But they also contain the nine that are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
20 foods that are good for the brain
1. Avocados: They are packed with monounsaturated fats, and they are suitable for building the brain and blood flow.
2. Leafy vegetables: Rich source of polyphenols (vegetable antioxidants that fight free radicals), folic acid, lutein, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, all nutrients associated with brain health.
3. Blueberries: In a Harvard longitudinal study involving 16,000 nurses, the consumption of berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, was associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. The study even concluded that the regular use of seeds delayed cognitive decline by two and a half years.
4. Beans: they are rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, vegetable protein, iron, and other minerals. They have been shown to increase longevity and reduce the risk of stroke (incidentally, one of the four most common neurodegenerative diseases, which have several risk factors in common with dementia). Beans can lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels for hours after consumption. (In the USA there is, therefore, the term “Second Meal Effect,” meaning that some foods have a beneficial effect on blood sugar and insulin even during the subsequent meal).
5. broccoli: rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids with antioxidant properties. These can cross the blood-brain barrier and reverse damage caused by free radicals and normal aging processes. A major study by the renowned Harvard Medical School with more than 13,000 women has also shown that anyone who regularly eats vegetables from the cruciferous family – such as broccoli – suffers less age-related memory loss.
6. Spices: In comparison, spices contain the most antioxidants per gram and are therefore best suited to support the brain’s natural detoxification systems. Spices and herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, allspice, saffron, nutmeg, tarragon, and others should be an integral part of our diet, not just an occasional addition.
7. Coffee: The caffeine in coffee is an adenosine receptor antagonist that stimulates the production of acetylcholine, a known neuroprotective agent in the brain. It also contains many antioxidants in the form of polyphenols and chlorogenic acid.
8. Herbs: Fresh or dried herbs such as coriander, dill, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, mint, and parsley contain ten times more antioxidants than nuts and berries. Even a small amount affects the antioxidant account.
9. Turmeric: Curcumin, the main component of turmeric, is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiamyloidal powerhouse. Studies in animals and humans have shown that curcumin is directly involved in the reduction of beta-amyloid.
10. Linseed: contains the highest amount of vegetable omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower LDL cholesterol. Flax also contains lignans, chemical compounds that protect blood vessels from inflammatory damage.