Eating a healthy diet is essential at any age. But for seniors, maintaining a healthy diet can do more than reduce your risk for common chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or hypertension. In fact, incorporating the right types of foods into your diet has the potential to ward off age-related memory decline and cognitive decline, decreasing your risk for the development of certain types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some brain healthy foods seniors should incorporate into their diet.
Healthy Food for Your Brain
Due to a natural decline in appetite as you age, many seniors find themselves reaching for prepacked or processed foods at meal times. Unfortunately, many of these items are high in sodium, cholesterol and unhealthy fats, meaning they don’t have the nutritional value seniors need to not only keep their bodies, but their minds healthy.
To get more out of your diet, reach for fresh foods, which are generally found on the outer aisles of your local grocery store. Here are some brain healthy foods to look for:
- Dark Berries. Blueberries, blackberries and dark red cherries are known for being high in both antioxidants and flavonoids, both of which have memory boosting properties. Fresh versions can be difficult to find year long, so don’t be afraid to opt for frozen berries during non-peak seasons. They contain all the same healthy properties as their fresh counterparts and can easily be incorporated into a fruit smoothie or simply thawed and eaten.
- Beans. Black, kidney and other forms of beans are high in fiber and protein. And according to several studies, eating these low calorie, low fat foods three times a week may also help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Keep in mind, canned versions of these are beans are often quick and easy to prepare and have all the nutritional value you’re looking for, with the exception of baked beans, which often contain additional ingredients and sugary sauces.
- Leafy greens. Kale, broccoli, romaine lettuce, collards and other leafy greens can be found at your local grocer year-round in both fresh and sometimes frozen versions. And they all contain vitamins and minerals essential to combating cognitive decline, including vitamins A, C, E and iron. In fact, research shows that eating 6 servings of leafy greens each week may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Fatty fish. The omega-3s found in fatty fish are often applauded for their anti-inflammatory and heart healthy properties. However, regularly incorporating fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel into your diet may also reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease by decreasing the build-up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.
- Nuts. Small, but mighty, nuts like walnuts and almonds are high in healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants, making them the perfect memory boosting snack! Nuts are also known for their heart healthy properties and have been shown to help reduce bad cholesterol and your risk of developing heart disease.
Maintaining a healthy diet is just one way to help keep your memory sharp. Staying active, regular exercise, socializing and learning new skills or hobbies should also be added to your daily routine to further decrease your risk of cognitive decline as you age.
Helping Seniors Keep Their Bodies and Minds Healthy at Western Home Communities
Many seniors fear losing their independence as they age. At Western Home Communities, we help seniors keep both their bodies and minds healthy so they can stay active and live life to the fullest. Our healthy community dining options ensure every senior has access to healthy, homestyle meals. Additionally, we provide the services and amenities seniors need to stay healthy, active, happy and independent, no matter what their age. We invite you to learn more about our community options and services for seniors. Contact Western Home Communities today to learn more.