Facing Down the Far Corner of the Fear Closet

May 22, 2012 in Antioxidants, Health Claims, Mediterranean, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

You’ve probably figured out, if you’ve been coming here for a long time, that I’m always happy to read about new research that supports healthy life-style habits. Today I’m writing about two studies that both found evidence that what we eat is related to keeping our brainpower revved up. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has a fear of dementia and Alzheimer’s; no matter how carefully, we try to keep it tucked in the way back, far corners of the fear closet. In this blog post, I encourage all to face down those fears by taking proactive action consistent with promising research. The good news is that the actions to take involve really yummy foods – berries, nuts, and fish.

The first study, which was reported in the Annals of Neurology, found that women who consumed two or more half-cup servings of strawberries or one or more half-cups of blueberries per week saw slower mental decline. The antioxidants that give berries their vivid colors were also associated with slower cognitive decline. Don’t throw out your blackberries, Loganberries, raspberries, and Marion berries just because they were not the berries in the research; it can be shown that they’re just as loaded with the nutrients (anthocyanins and flavonoids) and fiber that make berries so healthy.  Did you notice what a small serving was used in the research? One cup a week of strawberries or ½ cup of blueberries - that’s really not very many berries.

Most of us in North America can’t always get berries at a reasonable price all year long; but freezing berries doesn’t hurt their nutrients. When the prices for fresh berries is really high, I just take defrosted frozen strawberries, whirl them in the blender with a little Delight sweetener and serve on pancakes, French toast, or yogurt.

The second study, which was reported in Neurology, found that omega-3 fatty acids help protect your brain. The researchers found that eating a diet high in omega-3s, found in such good foods as fish and nuts was linked with less beta-amyloid protein in the blood which is linked with Alzheimer’s risk. They found that the higher the consumption of omega-3s, the lower the beta-amyloid in the blood.

Both of the studies above were about keeping our brains healthy; but berries, fish and nuts, also keep our hearts and cardiovascular system healthy. What’s good for the heart is good for the brain, and visa versa. Did you also notice that berries, nuts and fish are also all foods encouraged on the Mediterranean-style of eating? These foods are healthy for your brain and your heart and help you keep your weight under control. I guess I’d have to say that these foods are definitely a win-win. Rather than becoming bogged down in fear; just include some berries, nuts and fish in your regular eating plan.