Salads Can Offer Brain Benefits; Know the Raw Ingredients That Help Support Memory
As summer approaches, many people seek out lighter foods to eat, with fresh salads often topping the list. A plate of crunchy greens or a bowl of colorful fruit can make the perfect meal on a hot day. With the right ingredients, they also can help support brain health and memory.
Many leafy greens, fruits and nuts are loaded with nutrients and flavonoids that have been found to benefit brain health.
A 2021 study, for instance, suggests that higher intakes of flavonoids help support better later-life subjective cognitive function. Flavonoid-rich foods in the study included strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, citrus juices, apples/pears, celery, peppers, and bananas.
Participants who had higher intakes of flavonoid-rich foods were associated with healthy cognitive function, the study indicated.
The study examined dietary habits of more than seventy thousand men and women starting in the mid-1980s. Over the years, participants answered a series of yes/no questions to recent changes in general memory, executive function, attention, and visuospatial skills.
The top one-fifth of participants who with the highest intake of flavonoids were nearly 40 percent less likely to report forgetfulness, compared with the one-fifth of those with the lowest intake.
Such findings suggested that higher flavonoid intakes may help support healthy cognitive function, according to the researchers.
Super vegetables and fruits
The 2021 study is just one of many that have examined the brain benefits of certain foods. Pharmacists should have no problems recommending some of the following:
Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli. All are rich in brain-healthy nutrients such as vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Some state health authorities also recommend eating berries, which contain flavonoids that have been shown to support healthy brain function. These include blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
Throw on some nuts
Nuts and seeds, with antioxidant vitamin E, also have been linked to lower rates of mild age-related cognitive decline, the health authorities note. In addition, nuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids, specifically alphalinoleic acid, which has been shown to help with improving memory.
The best nuts for brain health include walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, experts note.
How to dress the salad
Once you have your salad made, consider topping it off with olive oil and vinegar, rather than a creamy sauce. Extra virgin olive oil, for instance, has been found to support improved brain health and memory in certain individuals, researchers find.
If you really want to create a brain-healthy salad meal, consider washing everything down with tart cherry juice.
Researchers in a 2022 study found that a daily intake of Montmorency tart cherry juice may help support healthy cognitive function in older adults.
The study examined 34 adults between the ages of 65-73, who drank the tart juice. The study found that they were more content with their perception of their cognitive functioning.