3 Foods for a Bigger, Better Brain

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When it comes to your brain, bigger is better. Studies have shown that people with greater brain volume have sharper, quicker minds.

But our brains begin to shrink as we age. After age 25, your brain loses about 2 grams of weight every year. But what if eating certain foods could keep your brain big and strong as you get older?

A fascinating new study has identified three foods that achieve this.

Researchers at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, analyzed the diets of 4,213 people. They had an average age of 66. None had dementia.

The participants completed an exhaustive questionnaire about the foods they ate. Scientists ranked the diet of each person on a scale of zero to 14. Zero was the least healthy diet and 14 was the healthiest.

All participants then had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to determine their brain volume.

The study found that the people who ate more of three types of foods had significantly bigger brains. The results remained the same when the researchers adjusted for smoking, physical activity, and other factors that can affect brain volume.

Dr. Meike W. Vernooij is a neurologist at Erasmus University Medical Center. She was the study’s lead author.

“There are many complex interactions that can occur across different food components and nutrients,” she said. “According to our research, people who ate a combination of healthier foods had larger brain tissue volumes.”

The study recently was published online in the journal Neurology.

Best Brain Foods

The study found that those who regularly ate nuts, fruits, vegetables, and fish had the larger brains. But within each of these food groups are superstars that provide more brain support:

Cold-water fish. Certain fish are loaded with brain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. One acid in particular, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), helps you have better memory, think faster, and have more mental energy. Wild-caught salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines are great sources of DHA.
Walnuts. Other tree nuts also provide brain nutrients, but walnuts have more brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.
Avocados. Your brain thrives on a nutrient called lutein. It protects against cognitive decline. Foods high in lutein include leafy greens, broccoli, and zucchini. But the best source of lutein is avocados. One study found that eating one avocado a day increased lutein levels by 25% and “significantly increased” memory.

The study found that people with bigger brains had one more thing in common regarding their diets… They didn’t drink soda.

As we’ve told you before, sugary drinks make your cells – including your brain cells—age faster. Sugar fuels inflammation, which in turn weakens cognitive functioning.

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