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Diet for a Healthy Heart is Good for the Brain

HEALTH GOES STRONG
ROBYN FLIPSE

Foods found in diet that help maintain a healthy heart keep our brains strong, too

If it seems to you the foods that can help prevent heart disease grab all the headlines, your eyesight is fine! Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women alike in the U.S., so controlling it makes news.  Keeping the brain sharp is also on people's minds, but it takes more than cross-word puzzles to do it. What you eat can also help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease and dementia

The good news is that the diet that's good for your heart is good for your brain, too! 

The dietary guidelines that support a healthy heart include foods that won't clog your arteries, supply plenty of anti-oxidants, help to keep blood pressure low, and deliver lots of nutrients.  

To keep your heart and brain healthy you should be eating:

  • Dark green, deep orange, yellow, red and purple vegetables and fruits, such as spinach, carrots, peaches, tomatoes, and berries.
  • Whole grains and products made from them, such as whole oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole grain pasta.
  • Oily cold-water fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, lake trout, and herring.
  • Beans, nuts and seeds for their fiber, essential oils and micronutrients, such as kidney beans, chick peas, almonds, walnuts and sunflower seed.
  • Nonfat and low fat milk and milk products, such as yogurt and cheese.

Added Ways to Feed the Brain

Eat Fish Often –People who eat baked or broiled fish at least once a week – regardless of type - have been found to have more gray matter in the areas of their brains affected by Alzheimer's. Scientists believe the larger and stronger that area is, the longer it takes for the disease to destroy it. Eating fried fish was not found to provide the same benefits.

Season with Curcumin – This spice is the active ingredient in turmeric and used in Indian curries. Animal research has shown it reduces amyloid plaque, which is what accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. Human studies have also found that those who ate the most curried foods had the highest scores on cognition tests.

Supplement with Vitamin B12 – Even if the diet is nutritionally adequate, certain medications and changes in digestive secretions can interfere with the absorption of vitamins needed for vital brain functions, such as Vitamin B12.  Older adults with deficiencies of Vitamin B12 have been found to have smaller brains and lower scores on test measuring their memory, thinking and reasoning.