Feb 20
Memory-Boosting Foods for Seniors

Memory-Boosting Foods for Seniors

It’s important at any age to keep the brain healthy. But in later years, factors like age and environment can take a toll on brain health, which then in turn can affect your memory. The good news? Scientific studies have shown that the following nutrients may work to fight or slow the onset of memory loss conditions. And they’re all in foods that are easy to find and include in your regular diet.

Add these memory-boosting foods to your diet

Oranges: Vitamin C
Also found in: bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi

We all know that vitamin C plays a big role in maintaining a healthy immune system. It turns out that it’s important for the brain, too. Studies have shown that the antioxidant properties of vitamin C are essential for brain development and protection. And evidence suggests adequate vitamin C intake is critical for slowing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Salmon: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Also found in: trout, tuna, sardines

Don’t be scared off by the name: fatty fish are the good fats. Omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in cold-water oily fish, have been a big health topic in the past decade. There’s good reason for it: they’re critical in the building of brain and nerve cells and in brain function and cognition, learning, and memory.

Clinical studies have indicated that certain omega-3 fatty acids have protective effects in some neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. And the reverse has also been shown to be true: early studies have shown that deficits in these omega-3 fatty acids are linked to both learning impairments and depression. All these findings are strong reasons to add fatty fish to your grocery list.

Green tea: Polyphenols

Green tea has, of course, been a health staple in many countries for centuries. It boosts energy levels with caffeine, can improve alertness and focus, and can ease anxiety and increase relaxation. Green tea also has plenty of polyphenols and antioxidants that can help protect the brain from decline. In 2014, MRI results showed evidence that green tea extract is beneficial for cognitive functioning—specifically working memory and brain connectivity.

Whether you prefer your tea loose or in bags, there are plenty of green tea varieties to choose from and try. See which one is your favorite and add it to your morning or early afternoon routine.

Blueberries: Antioxidants
Also found in: blackberries and strawberries

Besides being a staple in muffins and delightful in many dishes, blueberries have nutrients to fight against memory loss. Like green tea, blueberries contain protective polyphenols, including anthocyanins. With anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects, anthocyanins have been shown to help combat brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders in animal studies. Even better, the antioxidants have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve brain cell communication. You’d never guess that these tiny berries pack such a punch.

Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory properties
Found as a spice and in curry

If yellow curry is your favorite Indian takeout dish, you’re in luck. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, crosses the brain-blood barrier with potent effects. Studies suggest that in sizable doses, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects have a potential role in improving the brain function and memory of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It also shows promise in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mental decline, as it may help to clear out beta amyloid plaque (a known characteristic of Alzheimer’s) and aids in helping new brain cells grow.

Another way to enjoy turmeric is drinking golden milk, a lightly sweetened and slightly spicy beverage. With fresh ginger and cinnamon, it has even more potential anti-inflammatory benefits, like relieving joint pain, boosting mood, and protecting against heart disease. Try making it at home (recipe at the bottom of the linked page) for a soothing drink at bedtime.

Pumpkin seeds: Micro-nutrients & Elements

Popular when pumpkin-carving time comes around, these seeds are beneficial all year round. Like other foods on this list, they’re high in powerful antioxidants that protect against aging decline. And they also contain elements like magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron that are crucial in healthy brain functions. Our brain needs zinc and copper for nerve signaling, and magnesium is important for learning and memory. And iron deficiencies have been shown to be a characterization of impaired brain function and brain fog.

The good news is, you don’t need to lug a giant pumpkin home to get the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are sold prepackaged and are also found in the mini-sized “pie pumpkins”, if you want to go straight to the source.

Dark chocolate

Always good news for folks with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate has been proven to be a treat with benefits. Its flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants have shown brain-boosting effects in studies of learning and memory. Research and several studies suggest that in particular, flavonoids and flavanols in particular may work in the brain to enhance memory and also slow down mental decline.

Even if you’re watching your sugar intake, there are great ways to enjoy dark chocolate. You can add unsweetened cocoa powder to any dessert or beverage recipe separately from the sugar content. And there are plenty of dark chocolate bars available with low sugar content.

Reap Memory-Boosting Benefits in the Foods You Enjoy

Findings suggest that these foods benefit brain health when regular and long-term staples of our diet. The easiest way to form a new health habit is by making it something you already like. If there are foods on this list that you enjoy, try adding them into your regular diet. You can feel good knowing that you’re working to keep your brain as healthy as possible.