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Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. This fatal and progressive condition destroys brain cells, resulting in memory loss and severe thinking and behavioral problems such as delusions, aggression, and hallucinations that interfere with daily life and activities.
A growing body of research suggests there may be a powerful connection between the foods you eat and your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, via similar pathways that cause type 2 diabetes. Some have even re-named Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes. Because of this, Health Fitness Revolution has put together a list of the Best Foods to for Alzheimer’s:
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts contain flavonoids and vitamin E, which help protect the brain. They are also filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, the good kind of fat your brain needs. A study from the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities found that mice given a diet including walnuts showed improvement in memory and motor coordination.
- Fatty Fish like Salmon, Mackerel, etc: Fatty Fish are high in Omega-3s, and can lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, a protein thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s. Eating fatty fish may actually slow the decline of the disease by 10%. A Columbia University study found that the more Omega-3 fatty acids a person eats, the lower their blood beta-amyloid levels. Read our Health Benefits of Omega-3s here.
- Leafy Greens: This includes spinach, kale, collard greens, and lettuce. Not only has a new study shown that the Vitamin C found in these vegetables reduce risk of dementia but they are also full of antioxidants and fiber. In a national study, women in their 60s who ate more leafy vegetables over time did better than their non-greens-eating counterparts on memory, verbal, and other tests.
- Curry Powder: The risk for Alzheimer’s is lower in India than many Western countries and curry may just be the reason why. Curry is composed of turmeric which has been shown to increase brain performance. Patients who die of Alzheimer’s disease are found to have large plaques of protein in their brain. New research shows that curry helps to prevent the formation of these plaques and reduce the impact of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Berries: Berries are rich in Vitamin C and important phytochemicals. These help neutralize the harmful effects of oxidants and support a healthy nervous system. According to Harvard researchers, those consuming significant amounts of strawberries display less rapid deterioration of cognitive decline as they age. Berries also contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which helps stop inflammation and allows brain cells to work better. A Tufts University study found that berries can reverse slow-downs in the brain’s ability to process information.
- Apples: More than keeping the doctor away, apples are a major source of quercetin, an important antioxidant that helps to support brain function and support a healthy nervous system. Researchers at Cornell have discovered that quercetin prevents free radical damage and can help stave off Alzheimer’s disease. Read our article on An Apple a Day.
- Coffee: A study out of Finland discovered that longtime java drinkers lowered their risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease as long as they consumed 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day. Coffee contains significant amount of antioxidants which have a protective effect on the brain. Another study from the University of South Florida and University of Miami found that people older than 65 who drank three cups of coffee a day developed Alzheimer’s disease two to four years later than their counterparts with lower caffeine levels, and that caffeine had a positive impact even in older adults who were already showing early signs of Alzheimer’s.
- Dark Chocolate: If you haven’t already switched from milk chocolate to dark, now you have one more reason to. Compelling research already shows that dark chocolate, which contains flavonoids (a plant compound that helps with the body’s circulation), can help combat heart disease, but flavonoids may also help slow down the effects of dementia. Read our article on the health benefits of Dark Chocolate here.
- Concord Grape Juice: Concord grape juice may be good for your heart, but it’s also an amazing super food for the brain. Full of polyphenols, research shows that it supports verbal learning skills, spatial memory and may reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.