If you aspire to have a brain like Socrates, eat like a Greek.
The Mediterranean-style diet, full of vegetables, fruits, olive oil, moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts is neuroprotective; in other words, it’s good for your noggin. In fact, a variation of the Mediterranean diet called the MIND diet intervention, which also limits sodium and processed foods, has been shown to slow brain aging by 7.5 years and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain,” says Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, a UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology. And depending upon what you’re eating, that can either help or harm your cognitive ability. For example: “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information,” says Gomez-Pinilla. “But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”
So, while you’re angling to get more fatty fish into your diet, burn some neurons conjuring up ways to eliminate these worst foods for your brain health below. And while you’re at it, erase these 11 Worst Frozen Foods from your grocery list as well.
Foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils like French fries, chicken nuggets, battered fish, mozzarella sticks, wontons, and onion rings, contain some of the highest amounts of trans fatty acids. Trans fats are manufactured hydrogenated vegetable oils that stay solid at room temperature, so they won’t spoil. Trans fatty acids raise your bad cholesterol and lower the good stuff, boosting your heart disease risk; studies show they’re also harmful to the brain. A 10-year Japanese study involving 1,600 elderly people who did not have dementia found that those with the highest levels of industrial trans fats in their blood were up to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by the end of the trial.
Trans fat-laden fried foods showed up regularly in a dietary survey of 1,018 people who were also given a memory test by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Their study published in PLOS ONE found that young men with the highest intake of trans fats performed the worst on a test of word recall. “Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” said Beatrice A Golomb, MD, a professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people.” Did you know that french fries also happen to fall on the list of The 7 Foods Most Likely to Make You Gain Weight?
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