Just the thought of losing your memory is frightening. After all, they are what make you who you are. So when you start to notice a little slip here and there it can be downright terrifying.
But here’s the thing – cognitive decline isn’t inevitable as we age. You don’t have to just give in to devastating memory loss. You can fight back.
Brain games are great for maintaining memory. And staying social is vital for your brain. But if you’re already doing those things and you find you’re still suffering from “senior moments” from time to time, you can do more.
You can take steps to improve memory before you forget any of your most precious moments for good. And you can build a barrier against future memory loss while you’re at it.
And it turns out the solution is hiding in plain sight right in your own kitchen.
How to improve memory with 15 common foods
You eat for your heart health, right? Well, now it’s time to eat for your brain, too. With these 15 memory protecting foods.
Don’t shy away from avocados because you fear the fat. They’re full of the healthy fats you want in your diet. And it turns out those same fats are a vital part of how this delicious fruit can help improve your memory.
Healthy fats help keep your blood flowing. Which in turn keeps your blood pressure at a healthy level. And while you’re probably used to thinking about circulation and blood pressure impacting your heart they’re both directly related to healthy brain function, as well.
But that’s not all. Vitamins A and C, also found in avocados, are associated with a lower risk of dementia.
An entire book could be written on how blueberries can help us improve our memories. But I’ll just stick to a few of the highlights today.
Blueberries are brimming with antioxidants. They’re one of the best foods you can eat to fight back against the kind of oxidative stress that can cause the damage in your brain that leads to memory loss. Plus experts say they may help sweep the toxic proteins which are linked with memory loss out of your brain, as you age.
If you prefer cherries, you’re in luck. Research has revealed you can get almost the same brain protection from cherries that you do from blueberries. Their dark red color is a hint that this delicious fruit contains plenty of anthocyanins and other memory-supporting flavonoids.
4. Dark chocolate:
It’s true; you really can nibble on some dark chocolate and improve your memory at the same time.
No, that doesn’t mean you can gorge yourself on brownies or chocolate cake, of course. But an ounce of dark chocolate during the day will give your brain some of the antioxidants it needs to lock in your precious memories – as well as help with focus, concentration, and mood.
Avocados aren’t the only source of brain friendly fats. Fish are swimming in them too. Plus, fish contain a little extra “secret” ingredient called DHA. DHA is key to a healthy, functioning brain.
In one study on seniors, folks with the lowest DHA levels had significantly smaller brains and suffered from more strokes than those with higher DHA levels. And the differences didn’t end there. The seniors with higher DHA levels also did better on memory tests.
In two different major studies, eating fish at least once a week was associated with a 60 percent drop in the cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Choose wild-caught, cold water fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel for best results.
6. Fresh brewed tea:
It turns out your morning cup of hot tea—or your afternoon glass of iced—could be more than just a natural energizer. It could help improve memory too.
The combination of antioxidants and caffeine in fresh brewed tea can help boost your memory, focus and mood. Tea leaves or tea bags, either way you get the benefits. But skip the bottled variety which won’t deliver the same benefits and is often full of sugar and unwanted additives.
7. Leafy greens:
The darker the leafy green the better it is for helping to protect your memory. In other words when you want to support brain health, aim for kale and spinach before choosing Boston Bibb or romaine.
While researchers don’t completely understand how dark leafy greens support your brain, they ARE sure that they do. One prominent theory is they help lower the levels of a specific amino acid which kills off brain cells. But no matter how they do it, leafy greens work to protect memory so load up.
Protein-rich legumes are a great way to help stabilize your blood sugar. And without a bunch of nasty blood sugar spikes and crashes your body is able to deliver a steady stream of fuel to your brain.
So nourish your body and your brain. Eat more beans.
9. Oil-based dressings:
It’s the good fats again, which make oil-based salad dressings brain friendly. You just need to be sure they are the right kinds of fats.
The easiest way to do that is by putting aside those store-bought creamy salad dressings (they’re full of chemicals, anyway) and mixing up your own with brain-friendly olive oil, vinegar and your favorite herbs and spices.
Not only is it better for you, it will taste better, too!
Need some inspiration? Try my delicious brain-friendly balsamic vinegar and olive oil recipe.
|Brainy Balsamic & Olive Oil Dressing|
|Serve over any kind of salad you like. But for an extra memory protecting boost try spinach and sprinkle in some sunflower seeds. |
This dressing also makes a great marinade for organic, pasture raised meats.
1. Put all ingredients in small jar or blender.
2. Shake or blend.
3. Toss with any salad of your choice.
10. Peanut butter:
Peanut butter isn’t just full of brain-friendly fats it’s also rich in vitamin E. Research has found that higher levels of this memory-linked vitamin are associated with less cognitive decline as we age.
Choose organic, all-natural peanut butter to avoid unwanted additives and unnecessary sugar. Because all you need for delicious peanut butter is peanuts and a light sprinkle of salt.
Don’t like peanut butter? Try all-natural almond or hazelnut spreads instead.
If I had to describe how to improve memory in one word, it would probably be antioxidants. Because your brain is very susceptible to oxidative stress and damage.
Which is what makes pomegranates—one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants you’ll find in the produce aisle—a great choice for protecting your precious memories. When they’re in season there’s nothing like a fresh pomegranate to satisfy a snack attack.
But if you’ve never eaten a fresh pomegranate, they can be a bit intimidating to eat the first time. Check out the quick video tutorial below to learn how peel one like a pro.
We prefer the fresh fruit. But if you’re drink some pomegranate juice from time to time too, make sure to choose pure pomegranate juice with no added sugar or coloring. (One we like is Lakewood Cold Pressed.)
12. Red wine:
Studies have linked drinking a moderate amount of red wine with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. In one study, moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to experience serious memory problems than their non-drinking peers were.
So if you’re already a wine drinker rest assured if you keep it light your habit can have some health benefits. Experts say two glasses of wine a night for men, and a single one for women, is considered healthy.
13. Sunflower seeds:
It only takes an ounce of sunflower seeds to get 30 percent of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin E. Research has linked E to staying mentally sharp.
Sprinkle the seeds on salads, toss them into cottage cheese, fold them into your favorite burger or meatloaf recipe, bake them into breads or simply snack on them by the handful.
While most nuts are helpful when it comes improving memory, research shows walnuts are a true brain food. A number of studies have found they support brain health and they may help slow or prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s.
In one study it was found that the more walnuts a person ate… regardless of age, gender or ethnicity… the better he or she did on cognitive tests.
Walnuts bring three brain-supporting nutrients to the table… antioxidants, vitamin E and omega 3s.
To fight memory loss you’ll need less than a handful of nuts a day… about 13 grams.
15. Whole grains:
You probably know that whole grains are good for your heart. That’s what makes them good for your brain, too. Because improving your heart health can improve memory too.
Your heart is responsible for getting oxygen and nutrient rich blood to your brain. If any part of your cardiovascular system isn’t working up to speed, your brain suffers too. Whole grains help keep your heart healthy, so it in turn can keep your brain healthy.
Don’t lose yourself along with your memories. Protect your brain and your memory with these 15 brain-boosting foods.