You’re familiar with the old adage “you are what you eat,” right?
Well, it’s true. When you put bad food in you end up with bad health.
But that also means the opposite is true too. In fact, you can even target certain conditions or illnesses by choosing the right foods.
Putting specific foods on your menu can support different systems—from your immunities to your digestion—as well as certain organs—from your eyes to your colon.
Following are five brain-friendly foods you should be eating more of to boost your memory as you age.
It turns out mom was right all along. Fish really IS brain food. Wild caught fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines are swimming in brain-supporting omega-3 fatty acids.
You see your brain is basically a big ball of fat. And half of that fat is omega-3, which is used to build both brain and nerve cells. Experts say the fatty acid is vital for brain function, memory and performance.1,2
Our brains naturally shrink a bit as we age. But a faster shrink and more tissue loss can eventually cause cognition and memory problems.
Researchers say omega-3s may help slow down that shrink. In fact, the fatty acid is linked to more gray matter in the brain, and may boost new brain tissue development.3
Folks who eat more baked and broiled fish tend to have more gray matter, which is the part of your brain that controls much of your decision making, emotions and memory.4 While low levels of omega-3s in moms have been linked to lower IQ’s in their children.5
And according to experts omega-3s could put the brakes on age-linked mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease.6,7,8,9
Aim for two servings of fish a week
Broccoli is brimming with important brain-friendly antioxidants as well as other compounds that help fight inflammation.10
A single serving of the bright green stalks contains a boatload of inflammation-fighting vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for building certain nerve-linked enzymes, as well as the brain-cell building fat called sphingolipid.11,12
And studies have found that older folks with higher vitamin K levels have a better memory.13
Broccoli also provides memory supporting choline. Folks who eat lots of broccoli tend to perform better on memory tests. (See eggs, below, for more on choline.)
Munch on more broccoli to help protect your brain.
The golden orange spice turmeric is unique because its active ingredient curcumin can pass through the blood brain barrier. That means it can deliver a powerful antioxidant punch right where you need it.
Studies show curcumin can help fight off the brain-damaging plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.14,15,16,17 And the natural anti-inflammatory boosts a compound that’s linked to brain cell growth, which means it may also help ward off age-related decline.18
Try using more turmeric (curry powder) in your cooking. The spice adds a beautiful golden color to your meals. Try sprinkling it into rice and potato dishes or adding a dash to stir fries and casseroles. Turmeric is also available as a supplement.
Blueberries owe their brain-boosting power to anthocyanins, powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
These potent plant compounds—including anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, quercetin, kaempferol and tannin—help fight the inflammation and free radicals that are linked to age-related decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.19
Experts say certain flavonoids and polyphenols in blueberries accumulate in the brain and could help improve communication between your brain cells.20 And studies have even linked blueberries to better memory, especially in seniors.21,22
Blueberries make a delicious snack all on their own, or toss them into some steel cut oats or cottage cheese to supercharge your breakfast and your memory.
Eggs aren’t just delicious their nutritious too, packed with a number of brain-friendly nutrients.
Eggs are an excellent source of the hard to find, brain-friendly essential micronutrient choline. Your body uses choline to build neurotransmitters, which means it plays an important role in mood, memory and mental function. Plus, experts say, choline may play a role in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.23,24,25
But the brain benefits don’t end there. Eggs are also a good source of other B vitamins including folate, B6 and B12.
Your body uses B12 to build certain brain chemicals.26 And researchers say the B vitamins may help put the brakes on age-linked mental decline.27,28,29
You are what you eat so make sure you’re eating plenty of brain-boosting foods to protect your memory for many years to come.