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February 17, 2016

5 Foods that Improve Brain Health

You are wandering through the aisles of the grocery store on your usual trip. You take time to carefully select foods that are healthy for you, watching things like saturated fat content or sodium. You know making healthy food selections can provide significant benefit to your body and overall health, but did you know those same healthy choices could also have a positive effect on the health of your brain?

A number of specific diet plans—such as low-carb, Mediterranean or Indian diets—have been shown to improve brain health. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to start eating more curry or eat only Mediterranean foods to get these benefits. Simply making healthy choices and incorporating a few additional foods into your existing diet can help your mind.

1. Blueberries

These colorful berries are packed with antioxidants, which help reduce oxidative stress—the body’s inability to counteract the harmful effects of free radicals—on the brain. Eating blueberries has been shown to increase learning capacity and motor skills.

How to include them in your diet:

2. Nuts

Crunchy and in wide variety, nuts are high in vitamins like E, minerals and healthy fats, which play a role in preserving memory and preventing cognitive decline.

How to include them in your diet:

3. Salmon

Unlike most other fish, salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are not only good for your heart, they help prevent cognitive decline (they’re also found in anchovies, sardines or lake trout, if you’re not a salmon fan). For maximum benefit, it’s recommended you eat fish high in omega-3s twice a week.

How to include it in your diet:

  • Give your salad a makeover by using salmon instead of chicken
  • Slow roast it with cherry tomatoes
  • Grill it
  • Add some veggies and a stick and make salmon kebabs

4. Avocado

Like the good fats found in omega-3 fatty acids, avocado has monounsaturated fat, which is helpful for preventing high blood pressure—a risk for Alzheimer’s disease. And the vegetable is high in lutein, a carotenoid that helps cognition.

  • How to include it in your diet:
  • Smash it up for some tasty guacamole
  • Put it on a sandwich for a healthy twist
  • Add it to a salad for some great texture
  • Include it in your breakfast

5. Greek Yogurt

This dairy craze is far from a passing trend. The vitamins, minerals and probiotics found in this creamy snack have been found to reduce stress and help prevent cognitive decline and age-related memory loss.

How to include it in your diet:

  • Eat it as a snack straight from the container
  • Add some to pancakes (add blueberries, too, for even more benefit)
  • Make a tasty parfait
  • Give your pasta some flair by adding a yogurt sauce

Keeping your mind (and body) healthy can be as simple as making a few different selections the next time you go to the store. Trying the above recipes not only gives you brain power, but you might just find your next favorite dish.

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