Looking for the best brain food for vegetarians and vegans? This list will help your memory and your brain health!
Trying to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia as you get older? Want tips to help improve your focus and energy? The answer may be as simple as nutrition and your diet.
Have you ever noticed that a walnut looks like the human brain? Go look! It’s fascinating how much the two resemble each other, and it’s even more amazing that walnuts actually do help your brain. The food nerd in me just loves this.
Many foods in addition to walnuts can benefit brain health, just like many foods can improve heart health.
How food can benefit your brain
Foods help brain health by reducing inflammation and providing antioxidants, vitamins, and other important nutrients.
This is why I was excited to read a study in Neurology shows that eating a healthy diet may help your brain go stronger as you get older.
This healthy diet included vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, soy protein (like tofu), whole grains, moderate amounts of red meat, and a low intake of alcohol and deep-fried foods (like French fries).
By the way, this is essentially the description of the Mediterranean diet!
The researchers, from all over the world (the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and the United Kingdom), studied 27,860 women and men from 40 countries, age 55 and older. For four-plus years, the volunteers’ cognitive decline was monitored.
The folks who ate a healthier diet were significantly less likely to experience cognitive decline and scored higher on a cognitive test evaluating attention, registration (recalling prompts without repeating them), copying, calculation and writing.
Subjects with the healthiest diet were slightly older, had a lower BMI, got more exercise and were less likely to smoke. These are pretty stunning findings!
The researchers say a nutritious diet may help reduce stroke risk and inflammation (which may help prevent cancer) and lower blood pressure.
However, more research needs to be done to determine how a healthy diet protects the brain. With this information, I’ll continue eating healthy foods to help protect my memory as I get older!
Now, let’s take a look at those top brain foods for vegetarians and vegans.
Top brain food for vegetarians
Without further ado, here’s a list of the top brain food for vegetarians and vegans.
Eggs can be included on the Mediterranean diet in moderation. Don’t take this to mean you should be eating only egg whites, though! I’d recommend that most people eat the whole egg.
The yolk of an egg supplies many important nutrients, including brain-helping choline and eye-helping lutein and zeaxanthin.
2. Orange juice
When you drink 100 percent percent orange juice, you take in the flavonoid hesperidin—which may help brain health by reducing inflammation and maintaining bloodflow to the inner parts of your brain.
Wine contains flavanols, which can help your brain function optimally. In one study in Journal of Nutrition, older adults consuming the flavonoid-rich foods chocolate, tea, or wine performed better on cognitive tests.
4. Wild blueberries
There’s research in The Journals of Gerontology that shows that eating wild blueberries daily may benefit both your blood pressure and your blood vessel function!
And good heart health may also help improve brain health—as anthocyanin intake has been linked with a lowered risk of cognitive decline in addition to its cardiovascular benefits.
5. Omega-3 supplements
You get the brain-helping omega-3s DHA and EPA from fatty fish such as salmon. For vegetarian and vegan eaters, you can get these nutrients from a vegan omega-3 supplement.
One study in Annals of Neurology shows that eating more berries may help slow the effects of cognitive decline!
7. Dark chocolate
Cocoa contains flavanols, a type of antioxidant shown to help brain health. One study in Nature Neuroscience of older adults had volunteers drink either a beverage low or high in cocoa flavanols for three months.
The people who took in the larger amount of flavanols showed an improvement in brain function, in particular a part of the brain linked with age-related memory.
8. Concord grapes
Concord grapes offer many brain-boosting benefits! Because the grapes are only available for a very short season each year, the best way to get this grape’s polyphenol benefits is by drinking 100 percent grape juice made with Concord grapes.
One study in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that older adults with age-related cognitive decline who regularly drank the juice saw a positive impact on memory function and also had increased blood flow to areas of the brain linked with memory.
9. Greek yogurt
Gut health and brain health are connected in so many ways, so it makes sense to eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt!
The gut and brain body communicate and likely affect how the other functions. Research in Nutrition Reviews has found that gut health can affect emotional health and more.
Drink your tea! In a study in Journal of Nutrition, older adults who ate flavonoid-rich foods including wine, chocolate, or tea scored better on cognitive tests.
When it comes to cognitive health, there are many brain foods that vegetarians and vegans can eat. These include eggs, berries, dark chocolate, and tea.
- Healthy Eating and Reduced Risk of Cognitive Decline, Neurology
- A study in Journal of Nutrition
- Research in The Journals of Gerontology
- A study in Annals of Neurology
- A study in Nature Neuroscience
- A study in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
- Research in Nutrition Reviews
- A study in Journal of Nutrition
What do you think about this list of the best brain food for vegetarians? Which ones are already on your shopping list?
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