Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain
Add these 'superfoods' to your daily diet, and you will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy brain for the rest of your life.
Whole grains. Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain
breads, and brown rice can reduce the risk for heart
disease. "Every organ in the body is dependent on blood
flow," says Pratt. "If you promote cardiovascular health, you're
promoting good flow to the organ system, which includes the brain." While
wheat germ is not technically a whole grain, it also goes on Kulze's
"superfoods" list because in addition to fiber, it has vitamin E and
some omega-3s. Kulze suggests 1/2 cup of whole-grain cereal, 1 slice of bread
two-thee times day, or 2 tablespoons of wheat germ a day.
Beans. Beans are "under-recognized" and
"economical," says Kulze. They also stabilize glucose (blood sugar)
levels. The brain is dependent on glucose for fuel, Kulze explains, and since
it can't store the glucose, it relies on a steady stream of energy -- which
beans can provide. Any beans will do, says Kulze, but she is especially partial
to lentils and black beans and recommends 1/2 cup every day.
Pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice (you can eat the fruit
itself but with its many tiny seeds, it's not nearly as convenient) offers
potent antioxidant benefits, says Kulze, which protect the brain from the
damage of free radicals. "Probably no part of the body is more sensitive to
the damage from free radicals as the brain," says board-certified
neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, author of The Better Brain Book.
Citrus fruits and colorful vegetables are also high on Perlmutter's list of
"brainy" foods because of their antioxidant properties -- "the more
colorful the better," he says. Because pomegranate juice has added sugar
(to counteract its natural tartness), you don't want to go overboard, says
Kulze; she recommends approximately 2 ounces a day, diluted with spring water
Freshly brewed tea. Two to three cups a day of freshly
brewed tea -- hot or iced -- contains a modest amount of caffeine which, when
used "judiciously," says Kulze -- can boost brain power by enhancing
memory, focus, and mood. Tea also has potent antioxidants, especially the class
known as catechines, which promotes healthy blood flow. Bottled or powdered
teas don't do the trick, however, says Kulze. "It has to be freshly
brewed." Tea bags do count, however.
Dark chocolate. Let's end with the good stuff. Dark
chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural
stimulants, including caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration, and
stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood. One-half
ounce to 1 ounce a day will provide all the benefits you need, says Kulze. This
is one "superfood" where more is not better. "You have to do this
one in moderation," says Kulze.