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Eat For Your Brain

We know there are foods that raise our cholesterol and foods that lower cholesterol. There are foods that help us pack on the pounds and foods that have few calories and go a long way to fill us up. But, did you know that there are foods that play a positive role in overall mind health?

The Alzheimer’s Association refers to a “brain-healthy diet” as one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in fat and cholesterol.

Add these foods to increase brain power:

• Blackberries provide potent antioxidants known as polyphenols that zap inflammation and encourage communication between neurons.

• Apples are a leading source of quercetin, an antioxidant plant chemical that keeps your mental juices flowing by protecting your brain cells.

• Chocolate not only lowers your blood pressure, but researchers discovered that polyphenols in cocoa increase blood flow to the brain. All you need are two Hersey’s kisses a day.

• Cinnamon has two compounds—proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde—which inactivate tau proteins that can cause brain cells to die. Sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal or yogurt.

• Spinach is packed with nutrients that prevent dementia like folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

• Extra virgin olive oil is a foe against amyloid B-derived diffusible ligands (ADDLS), which are Alzheimer’s-inducing proteins that are toxic to the brain.

• Curry, which contains turmeric, is especially rich in curcumin, a compound believed to inhibit Alzheimer’s disease in multiple ways. Tumeric blocks the formation of beta amyloid plaques and fight inflammation and lowers artery-clogging cholesterol, which can reduce blood flow to your brain.

• Concord grape juice contains heart-healthy polyphenols. Researchers believe that—just like blackberries—grape juice polyphenols improve communication between brain cells.

• Foods that contain vitamin D. A study published in the July 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicinereveals that older people who are vitamin D deficient are 40 percent more likely to suffer from age-related memory loss. Milk leads the list of foods fortified with vitamin D. Some cereals, bread, and margarine are fortified with vitamin D, too. Other foods that contain vitamin D include cod liver oil and eggs. Of course, exposure to sun (hands, face and arms for 15-20 minutes, two to three times a week) allows our bodies to manufacture vitamin D. Sunscreen may interfere with the process.

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About Dee Litten Whited

Dee Litten Whited

writes from Virginia.

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