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Eat plenty of veggies and berries to stay mentally sharp in later life according to a new report

Author: Age UK
Published on 31 January 2018 12:00 AM

Experts from around the world have examined the evidence to date on the impact of diet on brain health in adults aged 50 and over. They found that foods which are good for our heart are also good for the health of our brains.

The report from the Global Council of Brain Health (GCBH) also concluded that it's never too late to improve your diet and see positive results.

Through eating a combination of different types of food such as leafy greens, berries and good fats in the form of extra virgin olive oil and omega-3 rich fish, people can expect long-term health benefits.

Among the advice given on what to include in your diet, the report also warns people of all ages to go easy on the amount of salt, wine, caffeine and chocolate they consume, if they want to maintain their brain health as they grow older.

What to eat and what to cut back on

Whilst it appears there is no single magic ingredient when it comes to improving brain health, the best foods to include in your diet regularly and the things to avoid are listed below:

Encourage:

  • Berries (not juice)
  • Fresh vegetables (in particular leafy greens)
  • Healthy fats (such as those extra virgin olive oil)
  • Nuts (a high calorie food, so limited to a moderate amount)
  • Seafood

Include:

  • Beans and other legumes,
  • Fruits (in addition to berries, previously mentioned),
  • Low fat dairy, such as yogurt
  • Poultry
  • Grains

Limit:

  • Fried food
  • Pastries
  • Processed foods
  • Red meat
  • Red meat products
  • Whole fat dairy such as cheese and butter
  • Salt

Quick ways to healthy eating

The team of experts also recognised that barriers to healthy eating can include a lack of time to prepare food and the potential expense. However there are a number of quick wins for people of any age wanting to improve their diet, such as:

  • Seek out green leafy vegetables and berries
  • Eat nutrient dense food in sensible portion sizes (it can be helpful to use smaller plates to start with)
  • Rinse canned foods to remove excess salt and sugar
  • Add lemon, spices and herbs instead of salt
  • Cook at home instead of eating out
  • Make an effort to try and new vegetable each week
  • Drink fizzy water in place of fizzy sugary drinks

James Goodwin, Chief Scientist at Age UK, said: 'The great value of this report is that it spells out in an uncomplicated way what we know for certain about the diet and brain health and what we can do to maintain our brain health by eating wisely. Though there is no "silver bullet", making simple changes to what we eat, along with other vital lifestyle changes, can make a big difference over our life time.'

Though the GCBH is confident that the evidence shows a heart healthy diet is also good for brain health, the relationship between diet and prevention of cognitive decline and dementia needs further research.

Get the report

The full report offers further information and more practical tips to help people incorporate healthy eating habits to maintain brain health.

 

Last updated: Jan 31 2018

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