For most people, occasional lapses in memory are a normal part of the aging process. One of the reasons is that the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, often deteriorates with age. Here are four surprising foods that may help improve your memory.
Turmeric is a yellow spice that is a key ingredient in curry powder. It’s not just the taste that’s great, it’s also good for your brain. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It can cross the blood-brain barrier. This means it can enter the brain and benefit the cells there. Here’s what it does:
- Improves memory: Curcumin may help improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s. It may also help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of this disease.
- Eases depression: It boosts serotonin and dopamine, which both improve mood.
- Encourages brain cell growth: Curcumin boosts the type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow.
Tip: Spice chicken, meat, beans and lentils with curry powder. The spice will add taste, color and health benefits to your food.
Greek yogurt has a high protein content. Protein is important to preserve muscle mass. It also provides high levels of calcium and potassium. And here’s where the brain benefits come in: Greek yogurt gives you vitamin B12. B12 is also involved in synthesizing brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels in the brain. And here’s another reason to up your intake of vitamin B12: being deficient in two types of B vitamins — folate and B12 — has been linked to depression.
Tip: Avoid the flavored varieties of Greek yogurt because of the high sugar content. Opt for plain Greek yoghurt and add fresh fruit or granola.
Eggs are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate and choline. We’ve spoken about vitamin B12. Choline is an important micronutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.Two studies found that higher intakes of choline were linked to better memory and mental function.
Tip: Egg yolks are one of the most concentrated sources of this nutrient, so make eggs an regular part of your diet.
Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene (which your body converts to vitamin A). Many studies have shown that people who consumed higher levels of vitamin A and other anti-oxidants over several years had substantially decreased levels of Alzheimer’s disease. One 7-1/2″ long carrot delivers 203% of the daily RDA for vitamin A. Broccoli and other vegetables are also high in vitamin A, but you would have to eat almost nine broccoli spears to equal the vitamin A in one carrot.
Tip: More than three carrots a day will saturate the body’s ability to store vitamin A over a short time and can show up as an orange tint on the skin. Make it easier to eat carrots either by grating them or by steaming them lightly.