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MEDICAL INSIGHTS: Food for thought

David Keisler

David Keisler

Limiting the intake of certain foods can promote health and limit the risk of diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. However eating certain foods can also promote a healthier life. Such is the case with eating some foods to promote brain power and to boost memory.

A recent communication by the Health Communications Network mentions five foods that seem to promote cognitive health. Lifestyle modifications through eating may help to prevent mental decline in the later years.

The National Institute on Aging recommends consuming fruits, veggies, lean meat, poultry, whole grains and fish, while limiting the intake of salt, solid fats and sugar. This sort of dietary discipline should help to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Coffee consumption at least in moderation seems to have the dual benefit of limiting the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes while also boosting brain power. In one small study there was an increased performance on cognitive tests in coffee drinkers as well as a decreased risk of dementia. Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day was beneficial. Also decaffeinated coffee produced about the same positive results as the caffeinated beverage.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in polyphenoles which are phytochemicals that have a positive effect on brain health. Also tea and cocoa containing polyphenoles and polyphenoles may have anti aging benefits as well as cognitive benefits.

Fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acid content and some studies state that fish consumption could enhance memory function. The list of fish recommended includes salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, lake trout, bass, halibut and freshwater white fish. Fish to be avoided because of mercury content include shark, tilefish and swordfish.

Almonds are on the list of favorable foods for your brain. In one six-month study of adults age 50-75 years of age, those who ate 3 ounces of almonds daily performed better on memory tests compared to those who did not. Almonds also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which could delay age-related memory decline.

Eggs could also boost cognitive function. An egg a day could have cerebral benefits. Another small study mentioned that whole eggs were beneficial for boosting cognitive function, while eating egg yolks resulted in better short-term memory scores compared to eating egg whites.

Think about it. Some foods that are good for your heart also also boost cognitive skills. If you don't have time to go deep-sea fishing, reach for a can of sardines instead and keep drinking your morning cup of coffee.


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