While some changes in cognitive health may be out of our control, there are things you can eat to help give your body a boost in wellness. A well-balanced diet can foster a reduced risk of dementia and the decline of the brain that individuals often experience as part of the natural aging process, as well as other health issues. Here, St. Barnabas explores some of the foods that fuel healthy brain function and ways to incorporate them into your personal wellness and prevention plan.

1. Avocados

The benefits of avocados extend far beyond being a source of protein (at almost three grams per cup). Packed with monounsaturated fat, this food fosters healthy blood flow. It’s great for individuals striving to maintain healthy blood pressure, and it has been shown to help lower cholesterol. As an ingredient, it makes a versatile and delicious addition to many dishes, including:

  • Toast
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches
  • Soups (as a garnish)
  • Dips

Because hypertension (high blood pressure) plays a role in decreasing cognitive ability, this nutrient-rich food supports brain health as a whole.

2. Blueberries

If you’re looking to improve brain health, blueberries are an easy choice. They not only taste great sprinkled in your cereal or a leafy-green salad, but research also shows they can help protect the brain from oxidative stress. These nutrient-rich berries may reduce the effects of cognitive conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, making them essential to the well-balanced diet of an aging adult. Try enjoying a cup of berries for dessert as a healthy alternative to sugary sweets.

3. Dark Chocolate

More than a treat that can satisfy your sweet tooth, dark chocolate offers certain health benefits since it’s loaded with powerful antioxidants. It also contains caffeine and other natural stimulates that promote focus and concentration. It also facilitates the production of endorphins that may help improve your mood. While this sweet treat may not do much as part of a slice of cake, just 0.5 oz of solid dark chocolate per day is all you need to make fostering brain health that much sweeter.

4. Eggs

Start your day on a healthy note with a meal that contains eggs. Not only are they a protein-rich food, but their yolks are a good source of choline. This essential nutrient helps reduce inflammation and is a building block of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that aids in memory. Eggs are also high in tryptophan, an amino acid that supports the creation of serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone that stabilizes your mood). What’s more, the vitamin B and folic acid found in eggs can help reduce homocysteine levels in the blood, which are often associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive impairment, and strokes.

5. Green, Leafy Vegetables

Whether you love them as fresh, crisp salads or as sides to your main course at dinner, green vegetables have been noted as foods that support brain health. Just some of these vegetables include:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Collards
  • Lettuce

Green and leafy vegetables, which are rich in vitamin E, vitamin K, beta carotene, and folate, work together to protect cells from damaging free radicals. Free radical-induced damage has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. These veggies can also help sharpen your memory and slow down cognitive decline.

Find Other Ways to Improve Cognitive Health as You Age

If you or a loved one is concerned about brain health, our Cognitive Brain Health Program can provide guidance. From improvements in diet and nutrition to brain-specific activities, our program provides a host of resources. If you’re living in the greater Pittsburgh area, including in Allegheny, Beaver, and Butler counties, contact us today to learn more about what we can do to help improve your cognitive health.

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