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Studies have shown that diet can play a key role in maintaining memory. A lack of vitamin B12, for instance, is associated with memory loss and dementia, and diets high in vegetables have been shown to reduce, or even reverse, age-related memory loss. Many brain-boosting fruits and vegetables are at their peak in the fall, so it’s a perfect time to take advantage of their memory-enhancing properties.
Which fall fruits and vegetables stand out from the pack? And what is the secret ingredient that holds the key to maintaining memory?
Plants contain compounds called phytochemicals, and two in particular are associated with improving memory and brain functioning: anthocyanin and quercetin. Anthocyanin is a pigment that gives berries, cherries, beets, black and red grapes, and red cabbage their deep colors; it’s also found in the peels of eggplant and red apples. Quercetin is found in onions, berries, currants, apricots, and red and black grapes. Folate, a B vitamin found in leafy green vegetables (think “foliage”) and cruciferous vegetables, is also associated with memory retention. Broccoli, cauliflower, chard, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collards and kale, are all cruciferous vegetables.
Although berries and apricots are out of season, kale and some cabbages actually become tastier after they’ve been exposed to frost.
At the market, look for deeply colored produce with firm leaves. Kale and other greens, including broccoli, should be dark green with no yellowing (a purple tinge is fine); cabbages, cauliflower, and beets should feel firm and heavy for their size; Brussels sprouts should also be tightly furled.
There’s no denying that these are strongly flavored veggies and you may be quite sure you don’t like them, but if you’re willing to give them another chance, skip steaming or boiling and try roasting them instead. Roasting caramelizes their sugars, giving them a deeper, sweeter flavor. Cut Brussels sprouts into quarters or break broccoli or cauliflower into florets and arrange in a shallow pan. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then roast in a 425°F oven until tender and browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.
You can also sauté the greens (tip: don’t discard them from beets or turnips). Remove any thick stems and cut tender stems and the leaves into smallish pieces. Heat some olive oil in a deep skillet and, if you like, sauté a little garlic until it’s fragrant. Add the stems and sauté briefly, then add a handful or two of the leaves and stir to coat with oil; when they have wilted somewhat, add another handful. Stir in some slivered almonds or pine nuts or even golden raisins and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar.
Don’t forget to round out your fall dinner plate with a hearty dose of omega-3 fats, which have many additional health benefits and can also help to power your brain. Best sources are: fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, sardines and albacore tuna; nuts, such as flaxseed and walnuts, and oils, including soybean, canola and flaxseed oils.
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.
Foods high in Anthocyanin (for memory and brain functioning)
Foods high in Quercetin (for memory and brain functioning)
Foods that contain Folate (for memory retention)
Best sources for Omega 3s (for brain health)