14 Brain Healthy Foods That Will Help Protect Your Memory and Cognition

More than just the number on the scale and how well your jeans fit depends on how you choose to fuel your body. What you put on your plate can support anything from your bone density to your memory. According to Dale E. Bredesen, M.D., a neurologist and creator of The End of Alzheimer’s Program, eating habits specifically affect brain function. The healthiest foods for your body frequently also provide a wealth of advantages for your brain.

The Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet, in particular, are supported by science for improving brain health and lowering the risk of dementia. The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes eating lots of fresh produce—fruits, vegetables, seafood, olive oil, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes—while avoiding red meat, processed meals, refined grains and oils, and high-sugar foods. Red wine, dairy products, poultry, and eggs can all be consumed in moderation. According to research, the diet has a wide range of health advantages, including enhancing heart health, assisting with weight management, and promoting cognitive function.

The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is in contrast to the Mediterranean diet and offers a few modest variations on serving recommendations, such as restricting sodium intake at 1,500 milligrams and allowing for more lean meats. The DASH diet was created expressly to help decrease blood pressure without the need of prescription drugs and offers many of the same advantages as the Mediterranean diet.

The MIND Diet, also known as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, has incorporated the best aspects of each diet, especially in terms of brain health. One 2015 study found that the MIND diet can delay the onset of cognitive aging by seven and a half years. This study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. The study evaluated the diets of 900 men and women between the ages of 58 and 98 over the course of an average of four and a half years, as well as annually testing their cognitive function. The risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was found to be 53% lower in participants who adhered to the MIND diet very closely and reduced their intake of less healthy foods like red meat, processed sugars, and fried foods, as well as 35% lower in participants who adhered to the diet only moderately.

Dr. Bredesen advises cutting less on processed meals, red meat, and added sugar while consuming more of the nutrient-dense, MIND diet-approved foods listed below to maintain your brain healthy for years to come.

1.Green Leafy Vegetables

Folate-rich foods, like leafy greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, are advised by Dr. Bredesen because they lower homocysteine levels, an amino acid associated to brain atrophy and an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Tea or Coffee

According to Nicole M. Avena, Ph.D., assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, “Coffee and green tea both include caffeine, which has been demonstrated to increase cognitive function by helping to cement memories.” Additionally beneficial for improving short-term memory are tea and coffee. Just remember to cut back on the sugar in your beverage.


Lean protein, choline, and iron are all found in poultry like chicken and turkey, which supports cognitive function, according to study.

To keep your cholesterol at a heart-healthy level, the American Hearst Association advises choosing lean meats low in saturated fats, such as poultry, over red or processed meats.


Citrus fruits and citrus juice are rich in flavanone, which is a plant-based molecule with antioxidant qualities that has been shown in studies to increase blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive performance. In fact, according to one study, elderly persons who consume citrus practically daily have a 23% lower risk of dementia.

5. Fatty fish

Because omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory qualities, research suggests they may reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Two of the three forms of omega-three fatty acids are abundant in fatty fish, such as salmon and canned light tuna (DHA and EPA). According to Avena, flaxseeds and other plant-based foods are good sources of the third kind (ALA).

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6.Whole grains

Dr. Bredesen advises attempting to stay away from simple carbohydrates like white rice or spaghetti. They can raise your chance of developing metabolic syndrome, a group of disorders that can result in long-term health issues like diabetes and heart disease, if consumed in excess. According to research, this raises your risk of developing cognitive problems and abnormalities of the brain. Instead, choose whole grains since they are high in fibre, a disease-fighting substance.


According to Avena, eggs are a good source of choline, an important nutrient that has been found to lower inflammation and improve brain function by facilitating optimal communication between brain cells. Just make certain you consume the yolks!


Depending on the variety, beans include roughly 8 grams of fibre per 1/2 cup, making them a staple in the Mediterranean diet. In a 2017 study, the authors wrote that eating a lot of legumes “may increase insulin sensitivity, which could, in turn, influence cognitive performance.”


A person’s chance of getting dementia has been proven to be decreased by polyphenols, which are abundant in nuts. The choice of walnuts is particularly wise. According to Avena, they include ALA omega-3 fatty acids, which are particularly beneficial for brain function.

10.Olive oil

According to Dr. Bredesen, a low-carb diet rich in beneficial fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as the ketogenic diet, can improve brain health. Monounsaturated fatty acids, which are abundant in olive oil and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, can aid in brain protection.

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