What can you eat to improve your brain

New research recently released by scientists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago shows a direct correlation between the food we eat and the health of our brain.

We’ve known for years that diets high in fat, salt and sugar are not only unhealthy for our bodies, but unhealthy for our brains too. But little research has been focused on what foods may improve the health of our brain.

This new research published in the March issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association identified ten changes you can make in your diet that will not only improve the health of your brain, but will slow down the development of dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

Just ten little changes, some daily and some only once or twice a month. I’d say that’s a pretty great investment for improved health!

These are the changes that are recommended:

  • One to two servings each day (one C.) of leafy green vegetables. Leafy greens are not only a great source of Vitamins A and C, but also a very good source of folic acid which is needed for good brain health.
  • One serving of any other vegetable. This makes a total of two to three servings of vegetables a day. That’s easy to do! And if you manage to eat more than this, it’s an added bonus. Just make sure to get the minimum of one leafy and one other.
  • Three servings of whole grains each day.
  • One glass of red wine each day. Wine contains antioxidants that help prevent plaques from forming in your brain leading to dementia. However, this is one diet change you’ll need to check with your health care provider before making. There might be health or medication issues that would prohibit the drinking of wine or any alcoholic drink.
  • One serving of beans about every other day
  • Two servings of berries each week. Again, not an overwhelming amount of fruit. Berries are not only full of phytochemicals which are great for your brain health, but the seeds in berries also help your digestive system stay regular.
  • Two servings of poultry a week.
  • One serving of fish each week. Fatty fish like salmon provide DHA which is great for brain development and brain health. Recommended fish are cold water fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, cod and shrimp.
  • Five servings of nuts each week.
  • Olive oil used in place of butter or margarine.

The following list is the foods to eat less of:

  • Less than five servings of red meat each week
  • Less than 1/3 C. of cheese a week
  • Less than one T. of butter a day (less than seven T. of butter a week)
  • Less than five servings of sweets each week

These recommendations are doable. You’re not asked to add lots of strange foods or recipes to your weekly meals and you’re not asked to give up your favorite foods. Rather just eat less of them.

Try these recommendations and see how easy it is to help your brain stay healthy! For more information on developing a healthy lifestyle, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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