Why a Nutritious Diet Is Important for Improving Brain Health and Cognitive Fitness


Cognitive fitness

 

As people age, there occurs a decline in their cognitive skills and brain function.Though there are no magic pills to prevent it, studies often highlight the effectiveness of a healthy dietary pattern to improve the condition. Following a dietary pattern that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fish and legumes can help. The key components that are particularly known to support brain health are B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Other brain healthy nutrients include vitamin K, folate, lutein and beta carotene.

Dietitians recommend a healthy dietary pattern as a preventive measure in this aspect. The emphasis is to consume healthy fats, such as olive oil or canola and derive protein from plant sources and fish.

That being said, certain foods in this overall scheme are particularly rich in healthful components like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, flavonoids and antioxidants, which are known to boost brain health resulting in better mental functioning.

Below are some of the foods that are especially good for improving brain function and cognitive skills

 

Berries

Nuts and Seeds

Whole grains

Avocados

Beans

Dark chocolates

Coffee

Fatty fish (Salmon, sardines, herring etc.)

Green leafy vegetables (Kale, spinach, collards and broccoli)

 

Research suggests that green leafy vegetables which are rich sources of folate, vitamin K, lutein and beta carotene may help to slow down cognitive decline .

Nuts are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats. Walnuts contains high amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid. A 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores. Alpha-linolenic acid helps lower lower blood pressure and protects arteries. Other plant based sources includes avocados and flax seed.

Most brain friendly foods are heart healthy too. In a 2012 study found that women who consumed two or more servings of flavonoid rich foods such as strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years. Caffeine consumption also has been proved to improve cognitive skills and the ability to memorize things.

In fact, It is not a single food that yields the best results associated with better brain health, heart health or overall health, but a combination of such healthy and nutritious food items.

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