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Sharpen Your Brain With a Healthy Diet

By Sandy Schroeder

Before you reach for another burger, or break open a fresh bag of cookies, consider what scientists are saying about the impact of a healthy diet on the brain.

The World Health Organization sums it up. Our brain cells produce byproducts called free radicals which gradually weaken the cells. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that fight the free radicals to protect the brain. They also nourish the brain with fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Nutritionists suggest eating fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. They also recommend getting protein from plants and fish and using healthy fats such as olive oil instead of saturated fats.

Where to Start

Head for the farmers market near you and pick your family's favorites in richly colored fruits and veggies to sharpen memory and lower the risk for Alzheimer's. Here's a starter list.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Pick nutrient-rich vegetables that provide magnesium to help dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow to the brain.

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collards
  • Broccoli

Berries and Other Super Fruits

Berries contain flavonoids, the natural plant pigment that gives them their bright color and helps improve memory, according to Harvard Health. They say consuming two or more servings of berries each week can delay memory decline by as much as two years. Look for these powerhouse fruits.

  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackcurrants
  • Grapes
  • Avocados
  • Pomegranates
  • Oranges

Try for two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables each day.

Add More Boosters

Add some nuts - Nuts provide protein and healthy fats and walnuts are especially good for improving memory. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which protect arteries and lower blood pressure. Substitute nuts for chips, cookies and other sugar-loaded or salty snacks. Also look for peanut or almond nut butters.

Coffee and tea - Researchers say individuals score better on tests requiring mental alertness when they are consuming caffeine. They also believe caffeine helps solidify new memories. Enjoy your favorite coffees or green or black teas. Just make sure you start lowering the caffeine in late afternoon or evening to sleep well.

Enjoy fish twice a week - Fatty fish supply omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce blood levels of beta-amyloid, the protein that shows up as clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. Choose salmon, cod, pollack and canned light tuna. If you are not fond of fish, you can also consider supplements, flaxseeds and avocados.

Whatever you do, steer clear of too much sugar and saturated fats and add the fruits and veggies wherever you can.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in League City, Tex.

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