A good diet is important for your weight and well-being, but it can also affect your brain. Research has been looking at foods that have benefits for your brain, and foods and eating patterns that may have negative consequences.
Foods with Brain Benefits
Foods with omega-3 fatty acids have been touted as having several health benefits. The Alzheimer’s Association noted that foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold water fish including tuna, salmon and halibut, may reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. But new research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may have protective effects for the aging brain.
The participants in a February 28, 2012 issue of Neurology were from the Framingham Offspring Study. The study included 1,575 individuals who were dementia-free. The average age was 67 and the majority were White.
At the start of the study, the researchers measured participants’ red blood cell levels of fatty acids, then measured mental functioning with tests and performed MRI scans three months later. The results found that individuals who had the lowest levels of omega-3 fatty acids performed the worst on abstract thinking, visual memory and attention.
HealthDay pointed out that the study “did not prove that omega-3 fatty acids prevent mental decline, merely that there may be an association between consumption of fatty acids and brain health.”
If you do not eat fish, there are several other foods that can be beneficial for your brain. Examples include nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, and dark-skinned fruits and vegetables, such as blackberries, red grapes, kale, broccoli and eggplant.
Foods That May Hurt the Brain
While certain foods are brain healthy, others may be doing your brain more harm than good. A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, which are considered preliminary, found that individuals who were age 70 or older and consumed 2,100 and 6,000 calories each day may be at twice the risk for memory loss.
The study included more than 1,200 individuals who live in Olmsted County, Minnesota.