If you enjoy a little cheese and a glass of wine regularly, we’ve got good news. That delicious indulgence may provide cognitive protection. A first-of-its-kind large scale analysis has connected specific foods to mental sharpness later in life. But not only that, they revealed the one thing you should never eat to avoid Alzheimer’s disease.
So, settle in with your favorite wine and nice cheese plate for some tantalizing news on taking care of your future brain health — the tasty way…
The right food choices to prevent cognitive decline
Although we all know that the food we eat can have a direct impact on our health and even our cognition down the road, it’s always been a guessing game as to what exactly we should and shouldn’t eat to get the most bang for our buck.
So a team of scientists from the Food Science and Human Nutrition department at Iowa State set out to change that…
Their research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, analyzed data collected from 1,787 aging adults in the United Kingdom through the UK Biobank.
Every participant completed a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT) as well as two follow-up assessments years down the road. These FIT tests provided a real-time snapshot of the participant’s ability to “think on the fly.”
Every person in the study also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption at baseline and through two follow-up assessments so that the researchers could compare their dietary choices to how well preserved their cognitive abilities remained.
They looked at everything from how often they ate vegetables (and how they were cooked) to whether they were fish or red meat eaters, bread lovers or Champagne fanatics. And here’s what they found…
Three to choose and one to pass on
For years, we’ve known that healthy oils, like olive oil and fatty fish (part of the MIND diet) promote a healthy brain. Now, you can also feel better about enjoying these three foods below — but be sure to leave out that last one…
- Cheese lovers win when it comes to the brain — Hands-down, cheese was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive decline, even far down the road into later life.
- Moderate alcohol, especially wine, can be brain-healthy — The team also found that responsible levels of daily alcohol, particularly red wine, was associated with improvements in cognitive function years later. Most experts recommend one 5 oz. glass a daily.
- Lamb is the protein choice for better cognition — The results also revealed that eating lamb each week (but no other red meats) improved long-term cognitive abilities.
- Salt is the thing to skip — And finally, the researchers say that if you’re already at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, say no to foods high in salt, since it can increase your risk of cognitive problems over time.
When asked about the results of the study and how they could be used to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, Brandon Klinedinst, a Neuroscience Ph.D. candidate working in the Food Science and Human Nutrition department at Iowa State had this to say:
“Depending on the genetic factors you carry, some individuals seem to be more protected from the effects of Alzheimer’s, while others seem to be at greater risk. That said, I believe the right food choices can prevent the disease and cognitive decline altogether. Perhaps the silver bullet we’re looking for is upgrading how we eat.”
So to keep your brain healthy for the long-run, try a little wine and cheese — no going overboard though! And don’t be afraid to go for lamb instead of red meat. The right foods could be your personal silver bullet to combating Alzheimer’s and staying brain-healthy for life.