By Leslie Pepper
HERE’S FOOD FOR thought: Your diet can
in;uence not only your body’s health, but your
brain’s health as well. ;e following six foods
can help keep your head healthy.
Berries. Berries in the blue-red group—
think blueberries, strawberries, blackberries,
cranberries, elderberries and raspberries—are
more than just a tasty treat. ;ey also help
keep you feeling sharp. Berries are chock-full
of antioxidants, or, more speci;cally, antho-
cyanins. It’s what gives berries their pigment,
but, more than that, “anthocyanins prevent
brain in;ammation and improve blood ;ow
to the brain,” says Marisa Sherry, a nutritionist
in private practice in New York City. “;is
helps improve memory and prevent age-
In fact, a study published in the Annals of
Neurology found that women who ate at least
one cup of blueberries and strawberries a
week experienced a signi;cant delay in men-
tal decline (two and a half years!) compared
with women who skipped the fruit.
Eggs. Eggs have gotten a bad rap in
recent years. But eggs—more speci;cally, the
yolks—are a rich source of choline, a chemical
cousin to the B vitamins. Choline must be
present in the body in order to create the brain
chemical acetylcholine, which is thought to
play a central role in learning and memory.
Eggs also have the highest-quality protein, says Sherry. “;e protein in eggs helps
fuel neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and
norepinephrine, which helps the brain feel
more alert,” she adds.
To keep your cholesterol intake in check,
keep it to no more than one egg a day. Or eat
lean meat, ;sh, poultry or soybeans, which
are also good sources of choline.
Oatmeal. ;is complex carbohydrate
provides slow and steady fuel to the brain any
time of day—not just in the morning.
“Complex carbohydrates are converted to
glucose, which is the main source of energy
for our brains,” says Sherry. “Without glucose
we have a hard time learning, remembering
And, because the body breaks down the
carbs in oatmeal slowly, oatmeal supplies a
steady stream of glucose that will keep mental
muscles ;exed for hours.
Olive oil. We’ve long known that olive
oil is good for the heart. But new research
shows the extra-virgin type may actually stave
o; Alzheimer’s disease. Extra-virgin olive oil
contains a type of natural phenolic compound
called oleocanthal, which has antioxidant and
anti-in;ammatory properties. And according
to a study published in ACS Chemical Neuro-science, research on mice suggests that oleocanthal helps shuttle the abnormal Alzheimer’s
disease proteins out of the brain.
Walnuts. Grab a handful of walnuts if
you’re feeling forgetful. One study found they
can help boost memory, concentration and
information-processing speed. Researchers
who looked at information from the National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
found that people who ate more walnuts performed better on a series of cognitive tests.
What’s in walnuts that gives the brain a
boost? Researchers point to many factors,
including their high antioxidant content, the
combination of vitamins and minerals, and
the fact that they are the only nut that contains a signi;cant source of alpha-linolenic
acid, a plant-based omega- 3 fatty acid with
heart- and brain-health bene;ts.
Wild salmon. While fat may be bad for
your waistline, certain types of fat are good
© SHU T TERS TOCK/MIKE FLIPPO
for your brain. “Your brain is composed of
about 60 percent fat, so it needs fat to fuel
itself and work properly,” says Cynthia Green,
founder and director of the Memory
Enhancement Program at Mount Sinai School
of Medicine in New York City and author of
Brainpower Game Plan (Rodale Books, 2009;
not available at Costco).
Deep-water fatty fish, such as salmon,
albacore tuna and anchovies, are rich in
omega- 3 essential fatty acids, one of those
good fats. ;ese include EPA and DHA, which
bolster communication among brain cells and
help regulate neurotransmitters responsible
for mental focus. Data shows that, in healthy
adults, a higher intake of dietary omega- 3 fatty
acids boosts the so-called “executive functions” (that’s science speak for more focus,
faster decision-making and sharper memory)—especially as we get older. C
Leslie Pepper is a freelance writer based in
Merrick, New York, who specializes in health
The Costco Connection
Costco offers a wide variety of healthful
foods, including fresh meats and produce,
organic products, supplements and more.
In our digital editions
Click here watch a video
on the merits of omega-3s.
(See page 11 for details.)
OTHER FOODS YOU might want to stock
in the fridge and pantry to keep your gray
matter happy include avocados, cinnamon,
coffee, dark chocolate, chickpeas, green
leafy vegetables, red wine, seeds, tomatoes
and wheat germ.
foods for thought
foods for thought
Nourish your nogg n