There is perhaps nothing more terrifying than Alzheimer's disease, which steadily robs you of your memories, your relationships, your sense of self, and ultimately, your life. As you age, you may find yourself constantly wondering if every symptom you have could lead to dementia. Is it a lost word or early Alzheimer's? Normal age-related memory issues, or a sign of something more sinister? While there's no surefire method – yet! – for preventing Alzheimer's, these five foods can reduce your risk of experiencing Alzheimer's related worry.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens are rich in a variety of nutrients that can keep your brain and body healthy. These foods are high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Antioxidants are particularly important in the fight against Alzheimer's. These important nutrients protect against free radicals – dangerous molecules that play a role in everything from dementia to cancer.
Foods Rich in Omega-3s
Fish, eggs, and flax seed are all rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are good for your heart, which means they can help reduce your risk of developing the vascular problems that so often lead to dementia. Moreover, foods rich in Omega-3s have been shown to boost concentration, reduce depression, and decrease your lifetime risk of both dementia and Alzheimer's. Even if you already have dementia, though, Omega-3s may help slow its progression.
Green tea is increasingly garnering attention as a wonder food, with evidence that it can help you sleep, boost your mood, and even prevent cancer. Add one more benefit to the list: drinking two to four cups of green tea per day can slow brain aging and reduce your lifetime risk of dementia. Some studies suggest that caffeine could play a role in these important benefits, though research suggests that other caffeinated foods are less effective than green tea.
Nuts are rich in Omega-3s. They're also a healthier source of protein than some meats. In addition to these brain-protecting ingredients, research suggests that something about nuts offers additional protective benefits. In one study, for example, rats who ate the human equivalent of a handful of walnuts each day were markedly less likely to get dementia; rats who already had dementia even saw a decrease in their symptoms.
Fruits such as blueberries are high in brain protecting antioxidants. They also offer a tempting alternative to less healthy snacks that are high in calories and trans fats. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy body weight is one way to prevent Alzheimer's, so consider replacing one snack each day with a handful of delicious berries. To get even more out of your daily fruit dose, try mixing fruit with yogurt and nuts for a high-protein snack that acts like insurance for your brain.