Eat Smart for Brain Health

by aevans
Eat Smart for Brain Health
When choosing foods to eat throughout the day, are you focusing on those that benefit the brain as well as the body?

You don’t need to make drastic changes to your diet to incorporate brain-healthy foods. A diet that cuts your risk for heart disease or diabetes – such as one that is low in fat and cholesterol – is also a brain-healthy diet.

Five nutrients for brain health:

1)    Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, may support your brain’s processing power and help fight mental health decline. Did you know that DHA accounts for up to 97 percent of the omega-3 fatty acids in your brain?

New BrainStrong DHA supplements make it easier to get the DHA your brain needs. The BrainStrong line of four natural daily brain health supplements for pregnant women, toddlers, children and adults provides the nourishment people need to ensure their brains are developing and functioning to the best of their potential. Aim for at least 200 milligrams of DHA daily. Those pregnant and nursing should up the amount to 300 milligrams.

Visit to learn how you can make a difference in your family’s brain health.

2)    Antioxidants:

Dark chocolate contains flavanols, an antioxidant that has been found in severalstudies to keep blood flowing to the brain. It is thought that blood flow to the brain is a large part of maintaining memory. Other foods rich in flavanols include tea and apples. Quercitin, a flavonoid found in onions, leafy greens and whole grains may work the same way.

Another antioxidant is vitamin E, found in nuts like walnuts, cashews, almonds, peanut butter and almond butter. Include at least nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits or vegetables a day, with meals and as snacks.

3)    Folate:

Studies have shown that people with low folate levels are more at risk for both heart disease and diminished brain function. Folate, or folic acid, is found in dark leafy green vegetables, beans, strawberries, oranges, and grain products. Strive for two folate-rich foods or at least 400 micrograms per day.

4)    Soluble Fiber:

Oats, fruits and legumes provide soluble fiber, a substance that passes through your body undigested but picks up excess cholesterol along the way.  Lower cholesterol in your blood stream reduces your chances of experiencing a stroke. Aim for 25 grams of fiber daily, including soluble sources.

5)    Vitamin D:

While the body can manufacture vitamin D after being exposed to sunshine, it is a nutrient that many Americans do not get enough of, especially in the winter months. A number of studies have linked low vitamin D levels with an increased risk of depression. A long-term history of depression may be a risk factor for later development of Alzheimer’s disease.  Some studies have also indicated vitamin D deficiency may also be a risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, soymilk and orange juice as well as supplements. Adults should get at least 600 IU of vitamin D daily.

Written By: Shara Aaron, M.S., R.D., author of “The Baby Fat Diet"

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