The aging brain can play host to numerous neurological diseases. While some can be brought about due to genetic predisposition, nutrition plays an important roll in the development and eventual aging of the brain. In fact, the brain shrinks and can lose 5-10% of its weight with age. According to the Framington Offspring Cohort Study; smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity can accelerate brain shrinkage. While good diet choices and exercise can slow the effects of aging on the brain.
Different vitamins and minerals support cell growth, blood flow, and control inflammation. Nuts are rich in many of these areas. According to the FDA, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as walnuts, as part of a diet low in saturated and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Different nuts are high in different vitamins and minerals, but the importance is in the healthy ratio of good fatty acids (omega-3:omega-6). Nuts are also a low-glycemic-index food, meaning they raise blood sugar more gradually than other foods. The American Diabetes Association showed that a diet in which 20% of total calories came from almonds improved insulin sensitivity. Here is a list of some nuts and their associated vitamins and minerals:
Almonds: highest per ounce in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin.
Brazil nuts: high in magnesium and selenium.
Cashews: highest in zinc, copper, and iron.
Peanuts: good source of vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, folate, and niacin.
Walnuts: only nut containing a significant amount of ALA (Converts to EPA to DHA).
Nuts are high in calories, but a 2011 study from Harvard shows that nuts are second only to yogurt as a food linked to weight loss. This is because nuts are filling and help to reduce intake of higher caloric foods, such as potato chips.
Phytochemical-rich foods, especially those rich in flavonoids, have also been shown in reducing the effects of aging, particularly, blueberries, green tea, and Gingko biloba (a nut-like seed from the Asian gingko tree). According to a study by the University of Reading, Flavonoid-rich foods are highly effective at reversing age-related deficits in spatial memory and the enhancement of different aspects of synaptic plasticity.
Gingko biloba boost blood-flow to the brain, and can help destroy free radicals. It can also protect brain cells from premature death. One study showed that long term Gingko use could improve selective attention and long-term verbal and non-verbal memory. Recent studies, however, have supplied mixed results in the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
Blueberries have been shown to improve both spatial memory and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) signaling in young and old animals. In particular, a new study has shown marked improvements in spatial working memory in aged animals using pure flavanol monomers like those found in blueberries. These studies suggest that it is the...