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Brain food: What to eat to protect your memory

Brain food: What to eat to protect your memory

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Make sure you give your brain the nourishment it requires.

When it comes to memory power and concentration, food choices can make a difference. Let’s examine some of the smartest foods for your noggin.

Unsaturated fats

Is the right fat where it’s at when it comes to brain food? Unsaturated fats (considered healthier fats) may help protect and preserve your memory. Diets that contain plenty of healthy, unsaturated fats have been linked to lower rates of dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

There are two main types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. The richest sources of unsaturated fats are avocados, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

  • Examples of foods rich in monounsaturated fats include olives, olive oil and avocados.
  • Foods high in polyunsaturated fats include walnuts, flax seeds and sunflower seeds.

These foods support brain growth and development. Vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, although they’re considered brain food, should be consumed in moderation because they’re high in calories.


Omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3 fats) are a type of polyunsaturated fat. They’re associated with lowering blood pressure, raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and reducing the risk of some neurological disorders.

Omega-3s also are associated with better memory. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring and sardines. Plant-based omega-3 sources, including walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, and chia seeds, make great brain food.

Fruits and vegetables

You can support optimum cognitive function and improve the health of your blood vessels with the help of nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits. Dietary patterns that contain plenty of whole or minimally processed fruits and vegetables are linked with a lower stroke risk.

The following nutrients have been linked with better brain health. They come from food choices that provide us with the energy needed to focus and learn while helping to protect against brain diseases.


Vitamin E is an antioxidant that has been linked to improved memory and cognitive performance. Good sources include green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and mustard and turnip greens, as well as asparagus, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

Vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate are linked with lower homocysteine levels, which are associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Legumes (beans, peas and lentils), nuts, whole wheat, quinoa, brown and wild rice, and millet are good sources of these B vitamins.

Include plenty of plant foods and fish and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats and added sugars, to support your brain’s abilities to remember, concentrate, make decisions, and engage in functions for daily living.


Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit

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