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Brain food: What to eat to help protect your memory

Is the right fat where it’s at when it comes to brain food? Unsaturated fats might help protect and preserve your memory

Make sure you give your brain the nourishment it requires.
Make sure you give your brain the nourishment it requires. Foods high in unsaturated fats are key.
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When it comes to memory power and concentration, food choices can make a difference.

Among the smartest foods for your noggin:

  • Unsaturated fats. Is the right fat where it’s at when it comes to brain food? Unsaturated fats might help protect and preserve your memory. Diets that contain plenty of healthy, unsaturated fats have been linked with lower rates of dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

There are two main types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Rich sources of unsaturated fats include avocados, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

Examples of foods rich in monounsaturated fats include olives, olive oil and avocados.

Foods high in polyunsaturated fats include walnuts, flax seeds and sunflower seeds.

These foods support brain growth and development. Vegetable oils, nuts and seeds should be consumed in moderation, though, because they’re high in calories.

  • Omega-3s — Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. They’re associated with lowering blood pressure, raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol and reducing the risk of some neurological disorders.

Omega-3s also are associated with better memory. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring and sardines. Plant-based omega-3 sources include walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil and chia seeds.

  • Fruits and vegetables — You can support optimum cognitive function and improve the health of your blood vessels with the help of nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits. Diets that contain plenty of whole or minimally processed fruits and vegetables are linked with a lower stroke risk.

The following nutrients have been linked with better brain health:

  • Vitamin E — an antioxidant linked to improved memory and cognitive performance. Good sources include green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and mustard and turnip greens as well as asparagus, almonds and sunflower seeds.
  • Vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate — these have been linked with lower homocysteine levels, which are associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Legumes (beans, peas and lentils), nuts, whole wheat, quinoa, brown and wild rice and millet are good sources of these B vitamins.

Include plenty of plant foods and fish ,and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats and added sugars to support your brain’s health.

Environmental Nutrition is a newsletter written by nutrition experts.