The 5 Best Foods for Brain Health as You Age

Experts have a crafted a recipe to keep your brain firing on all cylinders. Plus, we offer tips for cutting food costs.

The 5 Best Foods for Brain Health as You Age Photo by RossHelen / Shutterstock.com

It’s official: Today’s typical Western diet — laden with salt, sugar, calories and saturated fats — is as bad for our brains as it is for our bodies.

That’s part of the consensus reached by the Global Council on Brain Health, as reported in a paper released earlier this year titled “Brain Food: GCBH Recommendations on Nourishing Your Brain Health.”

Members examined data about how diet impacts brain health in folks age 50 and older. The council concluded that the best diet for brain health is the same diet prescribed for heart health. The report explains:

“Common conditions influenced by diet — such as elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — harm both cardiovascular and cognitive health. Therefore, a heart-healthy diet is a brain-healthy diet.”

Members of the council divided their recommendations on specific foods into three groups.

The food group labeled “Encourage” comprises the foods that the experts recommend eating regularly. The report also describes them as “the ‘A-list’ healthy foods.” They are:

  1. Berries (juice does not count)
  2. Fresh vegetables (especially leafy greens)
  3. Healthy fats (such as those found in oils like extra virgin olive oil)
  4. Nuts (though you should eat them in moderation, as they are high in calories)
  5. Fish and seafood

The food group labeled “Include” comprises the “B-list” foods, which the council recommends including in your diet. They are:

  1. Beans and other legumes
  2. Fruits (in addition to berries)
  3. Low-fat dairy (such as yogurt)
  4. Poultry
  5. Grains

The foods in the “Limit” group are those that you should, yes, limit. They are:

  1. Fried food
  2. Pastries
  3. Processed foods
  4. Red meat
  5. Red meat products
  6. Whole-fat dairy (such as cheese and butter)
  7. Salt

The council does not specify exactly how much of these foods should be eaten or how often.

How to cut food costs

People who decide to eat more healthfully often grouse about the high cost of foods that are good for you. But there are ways to trim that bill.

As we point out in “25 Ways to Spend Less on Food,” buying produce in season is a sure way to keep a lid on food costs:

Cans and boxes will last a long time on your shelf, but fresh ingredients won’t. Fruits and veggies, in particular, can eat up a big chunk of your food budget. Train your taste buds to like what’s in season.

For more tips, read the story. Then, check out:

Do you have more tips for cutting food costs? Share them in comments below or on Facebook.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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