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Your brain is hungry and it has two words for you: "Feed me."
You already know that a balanced diet is key to maintaining your weight and general well being. You know that calcium strengthens your bones, iron enriches your blood and fresh fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of health for your entire body. These general rules will also benefit your brain health but research shows that particular foods can target the brain and improve concentration, memory and circulation to ward off the deterioration that may accompany aging.
Salmon is back on the plate in addition to any fish that is rich in the fatty acid omega-3. Fish like salmon offer a concentrated serving of omega-3 and Vitamin D, both found to be important for brain health, according to a 2011 study published in the journal Neurology. Eating the right foods could inhibit decline in brain function as we age, the study suggested. Omega-3 in particular may lower risk of stroke and dementia and hinder memory loss.
If you feel there are holes in your diet and keeping your plate completely balanced is a challenge, supplements can fill in the gaps. Vitamin supplements are an easy way to get the daily dose of essential nutrition your brain needs. For example, a lack of vitamin B12 can contribute to brain shrinkage so make sure it is part of your daily regimen. Ginseng and gingko are believed to boost brain health, as are magnesium, beta-carotene and vitamins B, C and E. If you don't get enough of these through daily meals, you can supplement by taking them in pill form.
Nuts, Seeds and E
Almonds, sunflower seeds and avocados are among the many foods you can eat to increase vitamin E in your diet. Vitamin E is thought to protect against mental decline. Avocados and almonds are among foods that contain beneficial fats. These foods can reduce risk of heart disease and plaque in the arteries, improving blood flow to the brain. Avocados are also said to help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke.
Berries on the Brain
Super foods like blueberries may reduce the ravaging effects of dementia or Alzheimer's disease by protecting the brain from damaging free radicals with powerful antioxidants. Aging rats that ate a diet heavy in blueberries showed an improved mental ability that made them function like much younger creatures, according to one study.
Many foods that have been found to be good for your heart are also said to be good for your brain. A small dose of red wine daily has been shown to slow signs of dementia in diagnosed patients. Researchers believe the secret may be in the chemical resveratrol, an antioxidant contained in red wine.
Sometimes the brain just needs a little jumpstart. Small amounts of coffee, chocolate or fruit juice can provide a quick stimulant to help you focus or concentrate. Obviously, too much caffeine can make you jumpy and have the opposite effect, making it difficult to concentrate, so consume these in moderation.