5 Foods that Help Your Brain, According to a Doctor
It may seem like Alzheimer’s disease is something that some people are simply destined to develop. But that's not the case, Dr. Uma Naidoo, director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told us. There are some brain health factors that are absolutely in your control — including your food choices, she said.
In fact, consuming a variety of foods rich in certain nutrients can help promote brain health, fight brain fog and may even decrease your chances for developing neurological conditions later in life. In honor of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, Naidoo shared some of her tips to eat for better brain health.
Keep these foods in mind
When putting together a meal, Dr. Naidoo recommends opting for foods like berries, olive oil, greens, omega-3s and spices — to help give your brain a health boost.
Blueberries and raspberries contain antioxidants and other nutrients that promote memory functioning and healthy brain aging. Naidoo additionally stresses that thanks to their high fiber, vitamin and mineral content, berries support a healthy microbiome and can help to reduce inflammation. She suggests adding fresh berries to your breakfast.
Research suggests that consuming extra-virgin olive oil is associated with a decrease risk for Alzheimer's because compounds in this ingredient can assist in autophagy, the brain's natural cellular clean-up process, Naidoo explained. "Adding extra virgin olive oil to homemade salad dressings or drizzling over a green salad packed with a rainbow of veggies is a great way to reap these benefits!" she told TODAY.
With their high levels of folate, leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard are another excellent addition to a meal, Naidoo said. People who don't get enough folate, a form of vitamin B9, may be more likely to develop neurological and mental health conditions such as dementia and depression.
It additionally pays to look for foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which some research indicates can help support the functioning of brain cells and minimize your risk for Alzheimer's. Fish as well as certain nuts and seeds can be excellent sources of omega-3s. "Fatty fish such as wild-caught sock-eye salmon and anchovies, as well as various nuts and seeds, provide these essential nutrients," Naidoo said.