1. Fatty Fish
Studies have long shown that putting fish on the dinner menu, even one or two nights a week, can have many health benefits—among them helping to curb cognitive decline and enhance memory. The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish are believed to be key to brain function and development. They may also benefit the heart and ward off depression. Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, herring and sardines are high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Oil-based Salad Dressings
Drizzling oil-based dressing on your salads can help support healthy brain function. The vitamin E found in oil-based salad dressings is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are thought to guard neurons—the nerve cells that relay information between the brain and the rest of the body—from oxidation, thus preventing or slowing brain damage. Vitamin E has even been credited with delaying the advancement of memory loss in moderate to severe cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Other sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, peanut butter, almonds, fortified cereals, eggs and avocados.
3. Antioxidant-rich Fruits
Fruits such as berries and apples contain flavonoids, antioxidants that may help fight off cognitive decline. Unpeeled apples are especially helpful in preventing oxidation in neurons, which leads to Alzheimer’s. A 2006 study published in The American Journal of Medicine found that people who drank fruit and vegetable juices three times a week were less prone to Alzheimer’s disease. Another study published that same year in the journal Neurobiology of Disease reported that pomegranate juice improved memory and slowed cognitive decline in mice. Berries, in particular, have been linked to staving off dementia by eliminating harmful proteins that play a part in age-related memory loss.
4. Green Vegetables
Folate, a B vitamin found in green vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli and asparagus), is known to facilitate brain function by controlling homocysteine levels. Homocysteine, an amino acid commonly obtained by eating meat, is thought to deteriorate the DNA of nerve cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. This deterioration can cripple one’s ability to carry out cognitive tasks. In addition to green vegetables, orange juice is a good source of folate.
A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2013 showed that red wine may slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The key? EGCG, an antioxidant in red wine. Certain proteins are known to latch onto brain cells and destroy them as part of Alzheimer’s. EGCG can prevent that destruction by changing the shape of the proteins, which stops them from sticking to the brain cells.
6. Beet Juice
Beet juice (available at health food stores) may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thirsty, but recent studies show that it could help fend off Alzheimer’s. Nitrates found in beet roots help blood and oxygen flow within the body by dilating blood vessels. In particular, they boost blood flow to the frontal lobes, which helps to prevent dementia. Other nitrate-packed foods include spinach, celery and cabbage.
7. Chicken Giblets
Think twice before tossing out chicken giblets (the neck, heart, gizzards, kidneys or liver). Chicken giblets are actually powerful tools for battling Alzheimer’s. The vitamin B-12 found in giblets could keep the brain sharp, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Neurology. And it only takes one cup of giblets to get 228 percent of the recommended daily dose of the vitamin, according to Dr. Oz. Giblets can be cooked as a dish all on their own. If that’s a little too adventurous for you, drop them into your next pot of chicken stock.