Wellness Tips: Foods that boost your memory

Are you worried about being forgetful? Do you lose your keys or did you lock them in the car again? Do you fear you may be on your way to having Alzheimer’s disease? You are not alone. Learn how eating certain foods can boost your memory and brain power and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, we know that certain foods are important for brain health. Some of the top brain boosting foods: salmon, spinach, olive oil, blackberries, blueberries, chocolate, coffee, tea, apples, cinnamon, curry, and concord (purple) grape juice.

Salmon contains omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA which are also found in some other types of fish such as trout, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, and in some fortified foods such as yogurt. These fatty acids seem to protect against Alzheimer’s and boost memory power. Salmon is also a great source of vitamin D, which has been shown to ward off mental decline.

Spinach is packed with folate, vitamin E and vitamin K, which are thought to be dementia fighters. A recent study showed that three serving per day of leafy green, yellow, or cruciferous vegetables can delay mental decline by 40%, with spinach coming out on top.

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in oleocanthal. This substance disables ADDL (Alzheimer’s inducing proteins which are toxic to the brain.)

Blackberries, blueberries and concord grape juice all contain polyphenols (antioxidants) which improve communication between brain cells.

A 2009 Journal of Nutrition study found that eating as little as one-third of an ounce of chocolate a day (the size of about two Hershey’s kisses) helps protect against age-related memory loss. They credit polyphenols in cocoa with increasing blood flow to the brain.

Coffee, which used to be thought to be unhealthy, is now thought to be protective against Alzheimer’s and dementia when three to five cups per day are drunk.

Black and green tea contains antioxidants and inhibits those brain-damaging enzymes, which lead to Alzheimer’s.

Apples are a leading source of quercetin which protects your brain cells from free radicals. Be sure to eat your apples with their skin as that’s where you’ll find the most quercetin.

Two compounds found in cinnamon are believed to inactivate a protein and a plaque in the brain, which are known to lead to Alzheimer’s.

Turmeric, a cousin of ginger, is one of the principal spices in curry powder. Turmeric is especially rich in curcumin, a compound believed to inhibit Alzheimer’s disease in multiple ways. Not only does it block the formation of beta amyloid plaques, it also fights inflammation and lowers artery-clogging cholesterol, which can reduce blood flow to your brain.

One more way that eating these very healthy foods regularly can help your memory: it helps your body combat stress. Stress can make us forgetful. We all have stress. Eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables helps your body combat stress. Now you know.

Betsy Adams is the director of the Wellness Center at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis.