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Top Nutrients for Brain Health

Jul. 1, 2015|604 views
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Keeping your brain healthy has been identified as the second most important aspect of overall health. As we age, it becomes an increasing concern. Many older people begin to suffer from cognitive decline, which often proceeds to full-blown dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Clearly it’s crucial to promote brain health now, before it’s too late.

To that end, scientists at the Institute of Food Technologists recently published a list of the top eight nutrients for brain health. These nutrients have been linked to better long-term heart and brain health. Many of the problems of the aging brain trace back to problems with blood circulation, so what’s good for the heart tends to be excellent for the brain, too.

Cocoa flavanols

These potent antioxidant compounds have been associated with improved blood vessel health and thus, circulation. They may also boost memory and may even improve the function of a specific structure in the brain, called the dentate gyrus. This structure has been linked to age-related memory issues.

Omega-3 fatty acids

These essential nutrients are crucial for good brain health because they are incorporated directly into the physical structure of nerve cell membranes. Nerve cell membranes work a bit like an old-fashioned switchboard, allowing for sophisticated communications among cells. Without adequate supplies of omega-3s—obtained primarily through eating fish and fish oil—the brain and nervous system simply can’t function properly. Plant sources of omega-3s include flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds, although it’s best not to rely on plant sources alone.

Phosphatidylserine and Phosphatidic acid

Some preliminary studies suggest that these nutrients may help boost memory, mood, and cognitive function among elderly people. Although produced naturally by the body, ongoing studies are looking at the potential benefits of taking supplemental amounts of these nutrients.


Already mentioned for their contribution to the body’s need for omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are something of a superfood. Rich in fiber, minerals, and antioxidants, animal studies suggest that a diet featuring plenty of walnuts may provide protection against the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Check back tomorrow for the rest of the list of brain-health-boosting nutrients.


Tags:  chronic illness, mediterranean diet