We've all heard that fish is brain food, especially the kind that is rich with omega-3s. Blueberries and spinach also have notable brain-boosting abilities. However, these aren't the only foods which can help keep your brain strong and free of disease.
Certain compounds found in grape seeds may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. A 2011 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that in mice, these compounds helped prevent the formation of proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. Those same grape seed compounds are found in red wine, so wine may help protect the brain when consumed in moderation.
Fully caffeinated coffee may also help protect against Alzheimer’s. A study done at the University of South Florida fed caffeine to mice specifically bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease as they aged; some mice received caffeinated coffee, some received decaf, and others were given plain caffeine. The mice who received regular coffee showed higher levels of a hormone called granulocyte colony stimulating factor, which reduces Alzheimer’s symptoms by increasing neuron production and connection. For humans, the useful dose would translate to about four cups of coffee spread throughout the day.
While the vitamin C in citrus may or may not be useful in preventing colds, it seems that citrus fruit may help to prevent strokes. Flavones, found in oranges and grapefruit, seem to act as anti-inflammatories and improve the function of blood vessels. A 2012 study in Stroke reported that people who ate two or more servings of citrus each day over a period of 14 years had a 10% lower risk of stroke than people who ate less. Be wary of choosing juice instead of whole fruit; many juices contain added sugar.
Onions are full of antioxidants which may help prevent brain damage if a person has a stroke; the antioxidants can work to block the formation of oxygen compounds which damage the barrier between blood and brain. A study published in Nutrition reported feeding some mice an onion supplement. When researchers induced stroke in all the mice, the control group showed significantly higher brain damage than did the onion-fed group.
Eggs are rich in choline, a nutrient which is required to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which is linked to brain health and memory. A 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at nearly 1400 adults and found that those who consumed the most choline performed best on memory tests. The subjects with high choline intake were also less likely to have signs of potential dementia such as blood vessel disease in the brain.
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