Besides keeping you nourished, food really does have a powerful effect on your body’s overall functions—especially for your noggin. Numerous research studies show how certain foods have a link in helping (or hindering) one’s brain health, which is why it’s important to incoporate some of the best foods for your brain into your regular diet. Especially after you celebrate hitting that 50-year-mark!
Not so surprisingly, many of the foods that are good for your brain are real, whole foods that can easily be found on your grocery store shelves. These foods don’t require chemicals, are not overly processed, and are full of the brain-boosting antioxidants and nutrients that your noggin needs.
We spoke with our medical expert board members Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, also known as The Nutrition Twins, to determine the best foods to eat for your brain after 50. Rotate these following foods into your meal plan on a regular basis to keep your brain sharp and smart as you age. Then, be sure to read up on our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Out of all of the nuts to throw into your meals, The Nutrition Twins say that walnuts are particularly helpful in improving your memory and concentration, as well as your information processing speed.
“Research has shown that walnuts are associated with improved performance on cognitive function tests for each of those brainy matters,” they say. “Walnuts provide important nutrients including polyphenols, tocopherols, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that support brain health.”
“Not surprisingly, a recent study found that women who consumed at least two servings of walnuts per week during their late 50s and early 60s were more likely to age healthfully compared to those who did not eat walnuts,” they continue. “In this study, ‘healthy aging’ was defined as having no chronic diseases, reported memory impairment or physical disabilities as well as having intact mental health after the age of 65.”
According to The Nutrition Twins, a serving of walnuts is one handful (1/4 cup, which is around 1 oz.) and can be easily tossed into salads, yogurt, cereal, or simply enjoyed as a snack on their own.
2 Wild blueberries
“Wild blueberries are brain-boosting powerhouses and have been shown to enhance memory, improve cognition, slow age-related decline, boost mood, improve metabolic health (which boosts brain health), and improve the brain’s ability to make decisions, organize thoughts, stay focused and manage emotions,” say The Nutrition Twins.
“Wild blueberries are super nutrient-dense and they’re picked at the peak of ripeness and are frozen fresh, packing in 33% more brain-healthy anthocyanins than ordinary blueberries,” they continue. “Because they’re smaller than ordinary blueberries, you get twice the berries and twice the antioxidants in every bite.”
Some of their favorite ways to use wild blueberries in day-to-day meals including tossing them in smoothies, yogurt parfaits, and salads.
Plus, did you know blueberries are considered The #1 Best Snack to Reduce Inflammation?
3 Pomegranate juice
“Pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants which help to protect the brain by mopping up destructive free radicals that are known to damage the body and brain,” say The Nutrition Twins. “Research has shown that pomegranate juice improves memory in older adults with mild memory complaints and also may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”
“We get our servings by sipping on POM Wonderful 100-percent pomegranate juice, which a study at UCLA found to have more antioxidant potency than red wine, Concord grape juice, or green tea, on average,” they continue. “We also mix POM in smoothies, making ice cubes with it or making mocktails with it!”
According to the Nutrition Twins, eggs are one of the best sources of choline, which is critical for your brain health at every stage in life—but 90% of Americans don’t’ get enough of the recommended amount.
“Research shows that people who get plenty of choline perform better on memory tests and are less likely to show brain changes associated with dementia,” they say.
Eating two eggs will provide you with half of the choline you need. The Nutrition Twins recommend incorporating them into your daily diet for “lifelong brain health” by scrambling them, eating them hard-boiled, making omelets, adding them to salads, or even baking them in muffins and quiches.
“Cranberries contain flavonoids and proanthocyanins (PACs), which have powerful antioxidant activity that protects the brain against oxidative stress that contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases,” say The Nutrition Twins. “Cranberries also contain ursolic acid which may help reverse cognitive declines.”https://d5cef3b17ec48d87bde90ef39dd5164d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The Nutrition Twins specifically point out research published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, which suggests that drinking 44 milligrams of PACs (about a cup’s worth of cranberry juice) twice a day can make an impact on one’s gut health as well as a “complementary management strategy” for anyone infected with H. pylori, which is important for your brain health.
“An estimated 35.6% of Americans have H. pylori, which can impair cognitive function,” they continue. “Although more research is needed, we like to reap all possible benefits and add cranberries to our oatmeal, yogurt, muffins, and trail mix.”
“Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, an important building block for the brain,” say The Nutrition Twins. “Omega-3 fatty acids help to improve memory, boost mood, protect against cognitive decline, and may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Eating salmon may increase the gray matter in the brain which contains the most nerve cells that control memory, emotion, and decision making.”
They recommend incorporating salmon into your diet a few times a week. Some easy ways to do so include grilling, poaching, or barbecuing a salmon fillet. You can also toss canned salmon into your salad, in eggs, or even in a lettuce wrap.
“Oranges are one of the best sources of vitamin C, with one medium orange providing nearly your entire needs for the day,” say The Nutrition Twins. “Without adequate vitamin C, research shows cognition is impaired and amyloid plaque formation is accelerated, which is a sign of an aging brain and is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant that helps to protect the brain against free radical damage.”