The food-brain link is nothing new. Doctors have long believed that brain-based nutrition holds the secret for firing up your mental energy, guarding against mental fog, and even fighting off disease. And thanks to new research, published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, scientists have narrowed down the four most important food groups for stopping cognitive decline with age.
Conducted on almost 9,000 middle-age to elderly participants in Canada, the study found those who consumed less fruits, vegetables, nuts, and pulses (beans, lentils, and peas), were more likely to experience cognitive decline. Meaning: Your berries, avocado, black beans, and nut butters all serve a purpose in strengthening the power of your brain.
In order to reach these results, scientists used a cognitive indicator known as verbal fluency: at test that asks you to list off as many words as possible within a given category. Being single, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and having hypertension also put people at greater cognitive risk.
The new findings make sense in the context of past studies on nutrition and cognitive decline. Researchers have long known, for example, that the omega-3s found in walnuts have been found to boost memory and cognitive skills. Studies have also shown that blueberries specifically have been found to increase activity in the brain’s memory center. And, really, that’s just scratching the surface of all the research out there.
If your interest piqued at the thought of eating with your future brain health in mind, you can try checking off your daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies (four-and-a-half cups per day of each) and toss lentils or peas into salads with a small handful of nuts. You can also get your fill of pulses from red lentil pasta tossed with plenty of vegetables and a cashew cheese sauce. And, of course, it’s easy to eat a handful of berries as a snack or in your morning peanut butter oatmeal.
Just make sure that when you do crawl into bed at night, you can say check, check, check, check to eating the four most powerful food groups for your cognitive health.