It’s no surprise that our brain is pretty amazing at its job. The brain is in charge of keeping our hearts beating, lungs breathing, our movements, feelings, and thinking capabilities (1).
Much like our body, we want to make sure we are feeding the best foods to help support our brains. At Eden Senior Care, we believe that in order to live well, you need to start with eating well. That is why meals at our senior facilities are a big deal. Our on-site nutritionists make sure each meal is nutritionally balanced to help nourish both the body and brain of our residents.
In this article, we discuss 7 of the best brain-enhancing, memory-supportive, and concentration-booster foods you should include in your diet to help keep your brain as healthy as possible.
- 1. Fatty and oily fish
- 2. Tea and coffee
- 3. Berries
- 4. Green, leafy vegetables
- 5. Nuts and seeds
- 6. Dark Chocolate
- 7. Eggs
- Benefits of Eating Healthily for Seniors
1. Fatty and oily fish
This type of fish includes salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout. We’ve all heard that 60% of our body is made up of water and that it’s very important to stay hydrated. Similar to that is the link between oily fish and the brain.
30% of our brain is made up of omega-3 fat which amazingly is found in fatty and oily fish. These good fats are linked to memory, emotion, and decision making. According to a study, eating more fish may help decline your chances for Alzheimer’s disease and on the contrary, not getting enough of this fatty acid has been linked to learning impairments and even depression (1).
Not a fan of seafood? No problem! There are many ways to get your dose of omega-3s from nuts and seeds to plant oils (4).
Benefits of fish for the brain:
- Helps sharpen memory
- Helps with decision making
- Slows mental decline (Alzheimer’s)
2. Tea and coffee
Our residents love to enjoy a morning or evening cup of coffee or tea. There was a 2014 study conducted where participants that drank more caffeine scored better on mental function tests than those who didn’t. For the coffee drinkers, you may already know the great concentration boost you get from drinking coffee – it is no surprise caffeine can help improve our mental performance.
Another interesting fact is that the high concentration of antioxidants found in coffee may also protect against Alzheimer’s (1). We like to make sure our residents are staying hydrated at all times and enjoy their tea or coffee just how they like it! Our facilities have coffee stations accessible to our residents at all times.
Benefits of coffee for the brain:
- Long-term concentration boost
- Better mental function
- Helps protect against Alzheimer’s
- Increase alertness
Antioxidants are your brain’s best friend. To be more specific, these antioxidants are called flavonoid antioxidants. These antioxidants have been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body, improve communication between brain cells, and boost learning and memory (3).
Animal studies have shown that blueberries have helped improve memory and delay short-term memory loss (1). Therefore, eating berries regularly could help keep your brain healthy and functioning properly as you age. Berries can be enjoyed in so many delicious ways like in smoothies, in your cereal, or in salads!
Benefits of berries for the brain:
- Reduces inflammation in the body
- Improves communication between brain cells
- Boost learning
- Delay short-term memory loss
4. Green, leafy vegetables
If you want your brain to work nothing less than super, eat more superfoods! Brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, and broccoli are packed with brain-healthy nutrients such as vitamin K that help slow down a cognitive decline (2).
Broccoli is rich in a compound called glucosinolates which, when broken down, produces Isothiocyanates which may lower the risk of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases (3).
If you are not a fan of leafy greens, try making a green smoothie every morning to kickstart your day. Green smoothies are an easy way to get all the greens you need! If it tastes too bitter, try adding honey or berries to sweeten it to your liking. Our chefs do an amazing job at trying new dishes and creating new menus for our residents to enjoy. Once the meals are made, residents enjoy eating their vegetables and look forward to the next healthy dish.
Benefits of green, leafy vegetables for the brain:
- Helps slow down cognitive decline
- Helps lower the risk of dementia
- High in vitamin K – a brain-healthy nutrient
5. Nuts and seeds
We discussed the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants previously but luckily, nuts and seeds are two superfoods that contain both of these benefits- it’s a 2-in-1! Also found in nuts and seeds is vitamin E which helps support brain health in older people.
A 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores. These are a great and healthy snack option for your aging loved ones. Walnuts have also been shown to lower blood pressure and protect arteries – this is great news for both the heart and brain (2).
Benefits of nuts and seeds:
- High in omega-3 fatty acids
- High in antioxidants
- High in vitamin E (linked to brain health in older people)
- Linked to healthy brain cognition
6. Dark Chocolate
We like to treat our residents to chocolate and fun desserts. Just because it is chocolate does not mean the desserts are unhealthy. Our chefs and nutritionists do a great job of making all foods healthy and fun to eat. You’ll love learning that dark chocolate can play a role in our brain health.
Want a boost? Dark chocolate (containing cocoa powder) is packed with brain-boosting compounds including flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants (1). A number of studies have shown that these compounds may enhance memory, boost your mood, and help slow down an age-related mental decline (1).
There was even some research conducted that suggests the flavonoid component of chocolate may reverse memory problems in snails (3)! Even though the benefits of dark chocolate sound too good to pass up, it is unlikely your doctor would recommend eating it every day. Instead, try switching out berries for crumbs of dark chocolate in your morning oatmeal or add it to your healthy baked goods once in a while.
Benefits of dark chocolate:
- Packed with brain-boosting compounds
- Enhances memory
- Boosts mood
- Helps slow down age-related mental decline
Breakfast is something our residents look forward to and eggs are one of the easiest, most delicious, and healthiest foods we like to make for them. Eggs can be a great source of B vitamins including B-6, B-12, and folic acid, vitamins that may prevent brain shrinkage and delay cognitive decline (3).
How do they regulate your mood? The B vitamins are essential for proper brain functioning and development and they help regulate your mood (1). This is because B vitamins help the brain manage moods in a healthy way. Interestingly, Choline (an important micronutrient) is found in egg yolk and it helps regulate mood and memory (1). People don’t get enough choline in their regular diet and by eating eggs, you too can benefit from this powerful micronutrient.
Benefits of eggs:
- Packed with vitamin Bs – essential for proper brain functioning and development
- May help prevent brain shrinkage
- Helps regulate mood and memory
Benefits of Eating Healthily for Seniors
Seniors need to eat nutritious foods to stay healthy and active. A balanced diet is the key to keeping your body strong and reducing the likelihood of developing age-related health problems. Here are some of the benefits of eating healthily as you get older:
It can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer
Seniors are at a greater risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and cancer than younger adults. Eating a healthy diet can help reduce seniors’ risk of these diseases. Their bodies will be less likely to store excess fat, and they’ll have more energy overall.
It can help keep seniors’ bones healthy
As you age, your bones lose density and become more susceptible to breaks and fractures. Eating foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D can help keep your bones strong and healthy.
It can help keep your mind sharp
As you get older, it’s normal for your memory to start to decline a bit. However, eating a healthy diet can help keep your mind sharp and reduce the likelihood of developing age-related cognitive problems.
It can improve mental clarity and memory
Eating healthily can also improve mental clarity and memory in seniors. This is likely due to the fact that healthy foods provide the brain with the nutrients it needs to function properly.
It can help you maintain a healthy weight
As you age, it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. However, eating healthily can help you stay at a healthy weight, which is important for overall health.
Healthy foods are one of many important parts to keep your brain healthy. Each food listed above helps to benefit many different areas of your brain including brain damage, brain development, and memory.
By eating these foods, you can help support your brain health and your overall wellness. Our facilities can include these foods (and more) in our resident’s meals with our customizable menus! It is easy to eat well when you have a team of registered dieticians and amazing chefs available for you. For more information on our services, please visit edenseniorhc.com.
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This blog is made for educational purposes only as well as general information. This article should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your physician/doctor. Always consult your physician for specific medical advice.