What Diet is best for Memory?

By Nicole Lipinski, RN, MS-ADC-MC, CDP

We all know diet is important for many reasons—keeping our cholesterol down, our heart healthy and overall making us feel better. Well, what effects does it have on our brain? In particular—how can diet help with our cognition?

We must turn to research for some answers! There are all kinds of diets out there—so we need expert answers to be sure we have the right answers. However, research can be confusing and conflicts can exist. Our best bet is to look at the options presented and make the best choices we can for ourselves.

The best diets for maintaining cognitive function are the Mediterranean or DASH diets OR a combination of both. The diet consists of:
 Whole Grains
 Fruits
 Coffee – black
 Red wine – one glass in the evening
 Legumes
 Green leafy vegetables
 Nuts
 Fish
 Olive oil
 Herbs/spices

Whole grains are a great place to start. Eating whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease. Maintaining equilibrium in the body will help maintain brain health. We are promoting good blood flow to all of our organs by maintaining the cardiovascular system.
This includes our brains. Grains are also a great source of Vitamin E. Fruits like blueberries contain antioxidants. These also have anti-inflammatory properties. Blueberries have been found to improve communication and memory. Add some to your oatmeal!

Coffee helps to stimulate the mind and help with concentration. It can also improve your mood. Research shows that drinking coffee over a long period can decrease your risk of neurological diseases. It is thought this is because of its antioxidant properties.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that red wine can help with memory decline. Studies have linked the resveratrol found in red wine to heart and brain wellbeing benefits and advocates that regular moderate consumption of red wine may slow aging. The benefit is only present if the wine contains resveratrol and you should not drink over one a glass a night.

Legumes are low in fat, glycemic index and are high in protein and fiber. These are packed with punch and good for the brain. Examples of legumes are lentils, peas, and beans. These are great to add to your diet. Remember—fresh is best. Foods like broccoli, kale, spinach, and collard greens have been found to improve your brainpower. These are plant remedies help to slow down cognitive decline. You can find all of these in your local grocery store with the fresh vegetables.

Are you nuts about nuts? Healthy fats, Vitamin E and antioxidants are all great for memory and cognition. Research has proven that eating nuts, especially walnuts, can improve heart health. This can also improve brain health.

Fatty fish is on top of the list for brain health. Fish like salmon, sardines or trout which contains Omega- 3 fatty acids. These should be a staple in your diet. Omega—3 is none for slowing down cognitive problems associated with aging. It is essential for learning and memory.
Olive oil, spices, and herbs are important to use in your diet. Important ones are turmeric. It is a deep yellow spice found in curry powder. We know it to benefit memory, help with depression and help new brain cells grow. It has been found through research that it is better to use olive oil than butter or margarine. There are many items you can add or subtract from your diet to improve your concentration and memory. It is important to read your labels and research. A healthy you is a longer living you!

For more information on diet and a healthy lifestyle, please contact Nicole Lipinski, RN, MS-ADC-MC, CDP, Director of Healthy Aging, The Jewish Home at nlipinski@jhep.org or 570-344-6177 ext. 1113.