Healthy Foods for a Healthy Mind

March 25, 2011

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Photo: Courtesy of Tina Phillips

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia found in people aged sixty-five and older. Today, upwards of 5.3 million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer’s. One person is diagnosed every seventy seconds. Though many cases of Alzheimer’s are gene-related, the majority are not. Studies have recently shown dietary interventions may help protect against mental decline and potentially prevent brain-wasting diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Dietary interventions are as follows:

Dark Chocolate - Flavonoids in cocoa have been seen to increase blood flow to the brain, which may reduce the likelihood of dementia and protect against stroke.

Red Wine - Similarly to the dark chocolate, red wine is rich in flavonoids and polyphenolics, such as resveratrol, which have been seen increase blood flow to the brain and reduce the likelihood of dementia.

Clams - Elderly individuals with low levels of vitamin B12 have been seen to have a four-fold increased risk of Alzheimer’s.  Low vitamin B12 levels lead to increased blood levels of homocysteine, which increases the risk of not only dementia, but heart attack as well. Clams are a fantastic source of vitamin B12, containing 98.9 mcg of vitamin B12 in 100 grams of clams, which is 1648% of the RDA.

Asparagus - Individuals with low folate intake have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. In adding asparagus to your diet, you will fulfill nearly 68% of your daily folate needs.

Wild Salmon - Individuals who consume an average of three servings of oily fish per week have been seen to have a nearly fifty percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Eating oily fish such as wild salmon not only increase levels of omega-3 fatty acids, but also increase vitamin D and B12 in the body, which have been linked to reduced neurodegenerative disorders.

Walnuts  - A moderate, but not high intake of walnuts has been seen to improve motor and cognitive skills due to their combination of polyphenols, omega-3 fatty acids, and other bioactive substances.

Cherries - The same antioxidant compounds (anthocyanins) that give cherries their bright red color also contain anti-inflammatory properties that work like pain medications without the annoying side effects.

Turmeric - Curcumin in turmeric, which is often found in curry dishes, effectively removes plagues from the brain, which degrade brain cells and lead of Alzheimer’s.

Apples - Skins of apples are rich in quercetin, which has been found to protect the brain from damages associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Eating a diet consisting of these foods can aid in warding off Alzheimer’s and dementia. What is important to remember here, however, is to not consume high amounts of dark chocolate mixed with high fat cream, red wine in excess, or too many walnuts which may lead to other health complications. For more information on these nine brain power foods, click visit the Conscious Life website.

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