Q&A: What Are Good Brain Foods?

uncooked salmonQ: What are good foods for the brain? – J.S.

A: Blueberries: In animal studies, researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats. It is recommended that you add at least one cup of blueberries a day in any form — fresh, frozen or freeze-dried.

Wild salmon: Deep-water fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function. Other oily fish that provide the benefits of omega-3s are sardines and herring. It is recommended you eat a four-ounce serving, two to three times a week.

Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E and higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter and tahini. Raw or roasted doesn’t matter, although if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts.

Avocados: Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health. It’s a monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow. Healthy blood flow means a healthy brain. Hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities and avocados lower blood pressure, promoting brain health. Avocados are high in calories, so it is suggested adding just 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to one daily meal as a side dish.