Have you ever walked into a room to get something but then forgot what it was you were going to get? Don't worry; it happens to all of us at some point. But keeping your brain fit is more than just doing crossword puzzles or word searches. There is increasing evidence that brain health is directly related to body health. That means diet and exercise are not just important for the heart, but also the brain.
Unofficially termed "brain food," are certain foods found to be protective against free radical damage and a source of nourishment for the brain. Key nutrients include B-vitamins, such as folate and vitamin B-12, antioxidants in vitamins C, E, and beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (AHA).
Antioxidants found in dark skinned fruits and vegetables, such as raspberries, red grapes, and kale, protect the cells against damage. Particularly, it can protect the brain against memory and cognitive loss and in advanced cases, dementia and Alzheimer's. Folate can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, dry edible beans and fortified cereals. Vitamin B-12 is naturally found in meat, fish, eggs, milk and some fortified breakfast cereals. Fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, and trout are good sources of DHA, while flax and flaxseed oil, olive oil, canola oil and walnuts are good sources of AHA.
Contrary to the beneficial health effects of diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, epidemiological studies indicate that diets with high contents of trans and saturated fats have a negative impact on cognition. So while meat may be a brain food due to its vitamin B-12 content, it's also a natural source of saturated and trans fat. If meat is in your diet, select lean options, such as poultry or 95% extra lean ground beef. Fuel your brain with these foods, and your brain and body will thank you.
Tuna Salad Printable PDF
¼ cup light mayonnaise
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 can tuna in water, drained
½ cup cucumber, chopped
½ cup tomato, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Mix together mayonnaise, jalapeno, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add tuna, cucumber, tomato and cilantro. Mix and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve on lettuce leaf, whole grain toast or crackers.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition analysis per serving: 110 calories, 5 grams fat, 280 milligrams sodium, 3 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber