Cocoa Flavanols May Boost Memory

Dark Chocolate

Coffee, berries, apples, grapes, nectarines, pears and cocoa are all good sources of flavonoids and some of these should be eaten daily. I personably drink coffee, green tea, and chocolate every day!

If your diet is low in flavanols — antioxidant compounds found in foods such as green tea, apples, berries and cocoa — adding 500 milligrams a day to your diet may slow and possibly improve age-related mental decline, according to a new study.

Age-related mental decline is typically subtle. The condition impacts thinking speed and the ability to sustain attention and causes issues with word-finding, and it should not be confused with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, experts say.

“Older adults consuming lower levels of food-borne flavanols scored less well in tests of hippocampal memory function than individuals consuming higher levels,” said Dr. Ian Johnson, emeritus fellow at the Quadram Institute in Norwich, a center for food and health research in the United Kingdom. He was not involved with the study. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that regulates learning, spatial navigation, and storage and consolidation of memory.

When those same people were given daily supplements with flavanols derived from cocoa, however, their performance on an age-related word-recall test improved, Johnson said in a statement. He was not involved in the study, which was published Monday in the journal PNAS Neuroscience.

Flavanols, also called flavan-3-ols, are compounds that help give fruits and vegetables their bright colors. Each plant may contain more than one type of flavanol, as well as necessary micronutrients that complement each other. That’s a key reason many nutritionists recommend “eating the rainbow” to get the most benefit.

All flavanols are bioactives, naturally occurring compounds that affect processes within the body. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommended in 2022 a daily intake of 400 to 600 milligrams of flavanols. The association cited studies that showed the compounds may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Despite the fact that the study tested 500 milligrams of flavanols derived from cocoa, that does not mean you can get similar results from eating 500 milligrams of chocolate.

“What really doesn’t contain a lot of flavonoids are chocolates,” Kuhnle said.

In order for researchers to extract as many flavonoids from the dark cocoa as possible, the extraction processed was intensely “optimized” in the lab, Kuhnle explained.

“The best way to meet 500 milligrams a day is by consuming a range of different flavanol-containing foods,” he said.

Many foods do contain enough flavanols to meet that daily level, Kuhnle said, including berries, apples, grapes, nectarines and pears. Green tea is an excellent source — but only if you drink it.

“This is really about green tea, not green tea extract,” he stressed. “Extreme amounts of green tea extract (can) cause problems. People think, ‘Oh, if I’m on x, that’s fine, twice the amount of x is better, and 10 times is even better.’

“That’s one reason to always be cautious about supplements: It’s incredibly easy to increase amounts beyond what is sensible and beyond what is useful,” Kuhnle said.

In addition, when it came to optimizing levels of flavanols, there was “no advantage in going above these 500 milligrams and it’s achievable by diet, so there’s not really any need to go to supplements,” Kuhnle said.

7 Health Benefits Of Walnuts You Won’t Want To Miss Out On


Zhu and Chaudhry both recommend eating an ounce of walnuts (about a handful) per serving, pointing to studies showing that a one-ounce serving is enoughto improve the quality of your diet and your intake of certain nutrients, like magnesium.

Compared to other tree nuts, walnuts are much higher in the plant source of omega-3 fatty acids,” says May Zhu, MBA, RD, LDN. These fatty acids can’t be made in our bodies—we get them from food—but are essential for brain health and cognition, as well as cardiovascular health.

And don’t toss the walnut skins aside. Huma Chaudhry, RD, LDN, adds that the skin of walnuts also contains high amounts of antioxidants that can “help fight inflammation and oxidative damage in the body.”

Walnuts are also an excellent source of copper, folic acid, and vitamins B6.


Walnuts hold benefits from your head to your toes, helping support good health in your brain, heart, gut, and more. Here are their top science-backed perks of eating ’em:

They may benefit brain health.

“Walnuts contain nutrients such as healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, which all contribute to brain health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation,” Zhu explains.

Studies suggest that the nutrients in almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts could help prevent or even manage Alzheimer’s disease

“The plant compounds found in walnuts also have been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, reducing risk for brain disorders,” Chaudhry says. English walnuts (the most popular type) hold multiple including high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which benefit brain health. The polyphenolic compounds in walnuts reduce inflammation of brain cells and improve neurogenesis7, the formation of new neurons in the brain.

One study also discovered that regular consumption of nuts, in general, could be linked to a decreased risk for cognitive decline8.

They may benefit heart health.

“Consumption of walnuts has been linked most notably to supporting heart health,” Zhu says. This is because walnuts contain significant amounts of alpha-linolenic acid), which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating walnuts instead of foods that have saturated fat could help lower the “bad cholesterol” (LDL) and raise your “good cholesterol” (HDL).

Another study has even linked10 walnut intake with reduced stroke rates. A group of participants that ate a Mediterranean diet including plenty of mixed nuts had a 49% reduction in risk of stroke compared with a lower-fat diet control group.

They can help to balance blood sugar.

Another of the best benefits of walnuts: Their combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber can reduce blood sugar spikes and maintain balanced glucose levels between mealtimes.

One study on this topic looked specifically at walnut oil, indicating that consuming walnut oil could improve blood glucose levels11 in people with type 2 diabetes. Another (conducted on hyperlipidemic patients with type 2 diabetes) indicated that long-term walnut consumption could reduce fasting plasma glucose and insulin levels.

“The macronutrient combination in walnuts can increase satiety, keeping you full for longer and making it a diabetes-friendly snack,” Chaudhry says.

They may help improve sleep quality.

Walnuts naturally contain melatonin which plays a role in quality sleep. “Try swapping your melatonin gummies with a handful of walnuts as a bedtime snack,” Chaudhry suggests.

In addition to melatonin, walnuts may help improve your shut-eye thanks to their high magnesium content. A one-ounce serving contains 11% of your daily magnesium requirement. Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps your body relax, improving sleep quality. It also helps regulate GABA, a neurotransmitter that’s involved in promoting good sleep.

Finally, walnuts also contain tryptophan16—the same amino acid that’s in your Thanksgiving turkey. Your brain converts L-tryptophan into serotonin, which tends to make you feel sleepy17. These are a few reasons why walnuts may contribute to healthier sleep patterns.

They may help to promote longevity.

Recent research has shown that walnuts may help improve longevity, as well as helping you age more healthily and gracefully.

“Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health associated higher walnut intake to lower risk of death among older adults in the U.S.,” Chaudhry says. “The study linked five [or more] servings of walnuts per week to reduced mortality risk.

She notes that the group that ate more walnuts had a 14% lower risk of death from any cause and 25% less risk of death from cardiovascular disease, plus a gain in about 1.3 years of life expectancy (but it’s important to note that this study was funded by the California Walnut Commission).

And as we’ve already seen, walnuts support heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease19, which is one of the top causes of death20 in the U.S.

They may benefit gut health.

“Walnuts provide a dose of fiber, which is beneficial for regular bowel movements and supporting our good gut bacteria,” Chaudhry states. “The soluble fiber in walnuts can help feed the good gut bacteria in your large intestine and has been linked to reducing colon cancer risk.

In another California Walnut Commission-funded study, 194 healthy adults consumed 1.5 ounces of walnuts each day for eight weeks. They saw an increase in beneficial bacteria22 compared to when not eating walnuts. In a separate study, facilitators also concluded that walnut consumption affected the gut microbiome23.

They may improve metabolic health

Consuming nuts such as walnuts multiple times per week has been linked to less weight gain and a decreased risk for obesity. This goes hand-in-hand with a reduced risk of chronic disease, too.

Both animal and human studies have indicated that walnuts may help decrease the risk or the progression of conditions2 such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, depression, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Walnuts can also lower your “bad cholesterol” and the phytomelatonin found in walnuts is being studied for its anticancer effects.

The Link Between Sugar and Aging


When asked does sugar age you, Dr. Nish says the short answer is yes. Sugar ages us in many ways, both internally and externally, including our skin. Dr. Nish breaks down the science with a simple analogy.

“If you put a banana out on the counter and unpeel it, what happens in 24-48 hours? It gets brown,” Dr. Nish says. “What’s happening is the sugars in that banana are reacting with proteins, causing cross-linking and the brown color (browning reaction). The exact same reaction is happening in our bodies. We’re browning from the inside out.”

Table sugar is made of a glucose and fructose molecule, and it’s the fructose in sugar that accelerates the “browning” reaction by seven times. Skin is composed of collagen and elastin, which make our skin supple and soft. Sugar causes cross-linking of collagen, resulting in stiffening and loss of elasticity of our skin. The more sugar we have, the more our skin starts to suffer.

Dr. Nish lists the following as ways sugar takes its toll on the skin:

  • Increased acne
  • Appearance of wrinkles
  • Sagging in neck and chin
  • Development of dark spots
  • Slower healing of cuts, scraps, etc.

“Aging is part of growing older, but it’s accelerated by sugar. Without getting too technical, at the end of each strand of our DNA is a little cap, called a telomere, which protects our DNA from damage. Every time our DNA is read and duplicated, those telomeres shorten. While our bodies normally replace those telomeres, sugar quickens that shortening, and thereby, advances the aging process,” Dr. Nish says.

Dr. Nish says research on telomeres and aging is just beginning to come out. Though it’s unclear how much sugar causes this reaction, what is known is the more sugar that’s in the body, the worse it is.

“Men and women continue to process sugar the same as they age. What does change is how many calories our bodies may use in a certain amount of time. Kids have a higher metabolic rate than someone older, but as far as how sugar is processed, it’s the same whether you’re 4 years old, 40 or 80,” Dr. Nish says.

To reverse the effects of sugar, Dr. Nish says we can reduce the metabolic consequences of sugar (diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome) and possibly some of the aging aspects. But, unfortunately, we’ll be stuck with some of the skin changes associated with ingested sugar.

“We really want to encourage people to start getting rid of sugar early in life. This is particularly important in pregnant mothers. Remember, what’s going on in your skin is going on everywhere in your body. Our skin is just an external display of everything that’s happening in our bodies,” Dr. Nish says.

How to Eat Less Sugar

It’s never too late to start removing sugar from your diet, as it contributes to your risk for developing chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer and more. Dr. Nish’s first piece of advice is to start by looking at beverages.

“The average person gets about 30-40 percent of sugar from drinks. Stick to water, tea or coffee. If you need to sweeten it, don’t. If you need to flavor your water, try adding fresh fruit, like lime or lemon. That’s it. No fruit juice, no sports drinks, no energy drinks or pop,” Dr. Nish says.

His second tip is to take a hard look at food labels and packaging on processed foods. Roughly 80 percent of processed foods have sugar.

“Sugar comes with about 50 different names. You can look for processed sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, maldextrose. My favorite is concentrated fruit juice – it’s nothing but sugar. You really have to educate yourself on how sugar is labeled in different ingredients,” Dr. Nish says.

Fruits and vegetables contain sugar in its natural form, and Dr. Nish says you shouldn’t worry about those. Lastly, try combating your sweet tooth.

“There’s no such thing as a good dessert in the American culture. If you must have dessert, do what the Europeans do: have fruit, cheese and nuts. Or, have a little fruit with some yogurt on it for dessert. Natural foods are always best.”

The Best Vegetable for Gut Health, According to a Gastroenterologist


Photo by Elly Brian on Unsplash

Are you looking for a vegetable that can do wonders for your gut health? If so, we chatted with gastroenterologists who say spinach may be the answer. In this article, we’ll explore the many benefits of eating spinach, including its high fiber content, essential vitamins and minerals, and how it can help improve your gut health. Whether you’re dealing with digestive issues or want to maintain a healthier gut, keep reading to find out why spinach should be a staple in your diet.

The Benefits of Eating Spinach

Spinach is a powerhouse vegetable packed with nutrition and numerous health benefits. For example, research shows spinach has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and weight-management benefits (no wonder Popeye loved it so much). Besides being an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, spinach also offers several benefits for gut health.

“Spinach is always my first choice as the best vegetable for gut health,” says Sarah Robbins, M.D., a gastroenterologist and the founder of Well Sunday, a leading platform for digestive health solutions. “Not only is it readily available in grocery stores, reasonably priced, versatile and convenient, this leafy green is densely packed with fiber and other nutrients that support gut and overall health.”

Spinach Is an Excellent Source of Fiber

Fiber is essential for gut health as it helps to keep the digestive system moving and promotes regular bowel movements. A diet rich in fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, and it can also help to prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and other digestive problems. Eating spinach regularly can help you get enough fiber in your diet.

“The daily recommended fiber intake suggests that adults aim for [around] 30 grams of fiber daily, and spinach is a great way to fill that requirement. 100 grams of raw spinach has approximately 2.2 grams of fiber, and 100 grams of cooked spinach has 2.4 grams of fiber,” says Robbins.

Spinach Is High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants help to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can harm cells and contribute to chronic disease risk. Spinach contains several antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and flavonoids. These antioxidants can help to reduce inflammation in the gut, which is critical for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Best Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Spinach Is Rich in Vitamins and Minerals Essential for Gut Health

Spinach is a great source of vitamin A, which helps to maintain the health of the intestinal lining, and vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and bone health. This leafy green also contains iron, which is necessary for the production of red blood cells, and magnesium, which helps maintain healthy nerve and muscle function.

Spinach Is Low in FODMAPs

FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, are types of carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest for some people. This makes spinach a fantastic choice for those with irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive disorders, since eating spinach regularly can help reduce symptoms of digestive discomfort and promote gut health.

The Power of Fiber for Gut Health

It’s no secret that fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy gut. One cup of raw spinach contains 0.7 grams of fiber, making it a great choice for those who want to boost their daily fiber intake. But why is fiber so important for gut health?

Firstly, fiber acts as a prebiotic, providing food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. These bacteria break down the fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which provide nourishment to the cells lining your gut and help maintain a healthy gut environment. Secondly, fiber adds bulk to your stool, making it easier to pass waste and preventing constipation. This can reduce the risk of gut diseases like hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease.

“Because of the high fiber content, spinach is known to promote bowel regularity, which aids in preventing constipation and potentially eliminating other digestive issues,” explains Supriya Rao, M.D., a board-certified physician in gastroenterology and lifestyle medicine. “Spinach contains prebiotic fibers, which can help to feed the good bacteria in our gut, resulting in more solid and frequent stools. In addition, high-fiber vegetables aid in reducing chronic inflammation. Inflammation is linked to a wide range of digestive problems. Therefore, by eliminating inflammation, you can eliminate constipation.”

Incorporating spinach into your diet can be a simple and effective way to increase your fiber intake and promote gut health. Adding a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie or omelet or including it in your lunchtime salad or stir-fry can make a significant difference in your total fiber consumption and gut health over time.

The Bottom Line

Spinach is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be highly beneficial for gut health. It’s a good source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and is low in FODMAPs, making it an excellent choice for those with digestive issues. Adding spinach to your diet is an easy way to support a healthy gut and improve your overall health and well-being.

Walnuts for heart health: Effect on the Gut May be Key

Walnuts 2

These kind of articles ALMOST get it right. They are correct that walnuts are wonderful for your health, BUT the study fed the participants 1 CUP A DAY! That 523 calories!!  Walnuts should be a frequent food that you eat but in moderate amounts, about a Tablespoon or so a day.

  • Since walnuts have heart health benefits, researchers from Texas Tech University and Juniata College conducted a study to analyze what impact they have on the gut microbiome.
  • The researchers were curious whether it is possible that the heart benefits derived from walnuts start in the gut.
  • The researchers assigned diets to three groups of people, including one group that ate whole walnuts, and then tested biological samples from each participant.
  • Their findings showed that people who consumed the diet with walnuts had higher levels of the amino acid L-homoarginine in their guts.
  • Since people with lower levels of homoarginine are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, this finding showed that it might be possible to improve heart health by making dietary changes that affect the gut.

While scientists know that certain foods improve heart health, there are many questions remaining, such as how this happens, and what other foods exist that may lower cardiovascular risk.

Researchers from Texas Tech University in Lubbock and Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, wanted to learn more about how walnuts may benefit the heart, and whether that starts in the gut.

They conducted their study by analyzing the genetic expression of microbes in participants who either did or did not consume a diet with walnuts.

The study results were presented at Discover DMB, which is the annual meeting of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTrusted Source (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults in the United States. Nearly 700,000 people die from heart disease each year.

Many factors influence heart health, and an important one is nutrition. People who follow diets that are high in fat and cholesterol are more likely to develop conditions that can eventually lead to heart disease.

To help reduce the risk of heart disease, people can choose diets that are low in fat, feature lean meats, and are low in sugar and salt. Avoiding processed foods or foods high in trans fats can help as well.

Some heart-healthy foods the National Institutes of HealthTrusted Source (NIH) recommend people consume include:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • fish and lean meats
  • nuts.

Recent research shows that walnuts, in particular, can improve a person’s cardiovascular disease risk profile.

The role of the gut microbiome

A healthy gut microbiome is imperative to good health. The gut microbiota is a group of microorganisms that colonize the gastrointestinal tract. Some estimates suggest that there are 1,013 bacteriaTrusted Source in the human gastrointestinal tract, about as many as human cells in the body.

Sometimes illness or lifestyle choices can cause changes to the gut microbiome and make bad bacteria outweigh good bacteria.

The NIHTrusted Source note that “[t]he gut microbiome plays an important role in human health and influences the development of chronic diseases ranging from metabolic disease to gastrointestinal disorders and colorectal cancer.”

There are ways to improve gut health, such as taking probiotic supplements to rebalance the gut microbiome. Foods people can eat to help with this include yogurt, pickled vegetables, and kombucha tea.

What the new study did

The researchers who conducted the current study were interested in how walnuts impact gut health and improve heart health.

Walnuts have a higher alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content, which is significant because ALA may impactTrusted Source neurological and cardiovascular health.

The researchers analyzed data from 42 participants for this study. The participants all had an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.

All participants initially followed a traditional Western diet for 2 weeks. According to the researchers, their nutritional breakdown included a 50% carbohydrate intake, 16% protein, and 34% fats.

The scientists took stool samples to analyze the participants’ gut microbiomes, and then placed the participants in one of three groups.

The first group, which was called the “walnut diet group”, consisted of participants who ate 57–99 grams (g.) of walnuts per day — roughly 1 cup of walnuts.

The second group consumed the same amounts of omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid present in walnuts without eating walnuts. This was the “matched walnut control diet.

The third group was assigned to supplement ALA with oleic acid — while not eating walnuts — and was referred to as the “oleic acid replaces ALA in diet without walnuts” group.

At the end of the 6-week diet periods, the researchers collected stool samples from the participants and analyzed the samples with metatranscriptomics “to investigate the gut microbiota composition and functionality.”

Walnuts, heart health, and the gut

After collecting stool samples, the researchers conducted a genetic analysis of the gut microbiota from each group. They were able to determine whether there were higher or lower levels of certain bacteria.

The researchers found higher levels of Gordonibacter bacteria in the walnut diet group. This bacterium is responsible for metabolizing plant compounds.

The researchers also saw higher levels of gene expression in pathways involved with the amino acid L-homoarginine in the walnut diet group.

This is significant because people with low homoarginine levelsTrusted Source are at a higher risk for heart disease.

Additionally, they found that the participants saw improvements in their dysbiosis index values — the ratio of bad bacteria to good bacteria — after spending 6 weeks on their diets.

While the participant pool for the study was small, the results suggest the possibility of improving one’s risk for cardiovascular disease by making dietary changes that impact the gut.

Mansi Chandra, an undergraduate researcher at Juniata College who will present the study, commented on it in an interview with Medical News Today.

“The nature of the study itself is very unique […] to our knowledge, [as] metatranscriptomics has not been used previously to assess the effect of walnut consumption on gut microbiota gene expression and is the first of its kind,” said Chandra.

“The findings of these exploratory analyses contribute to further understanding of walnut-related modulation of gut microbiome, which could be very impactful in learning how gut health impacts our heart health in general.”

– Mansi Chandra

What do the experts say?

Dr. John Higgins, a professor of cardiovascular medicine with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, who was not involved in the study, spoke with MNT about the findings.

“Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linolenic acid, and are beneficial for improving cardiovascular health. They reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol balance, reduce blood pressure, and reduce risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Higgins pointed out.

When asked about the importance of such research, Dr. Higgins said it highlights “how different organ systems are interconnected.”

“In this case, the gastrointestinal system and the heart [are interconnected],” noted Dr. Higgins. “A healthy gut means a healthy heart!”

“This research suggests that by adjusting diet and modulating intestinal microbiota composition and metabolism — e.g. starting to eat a cup of walnuts each day — we may be able to better help cardiovascular disease prevention,” he further commented, though he cautioned that “[m]ore research is needed.”

Dr. Ernst von Schwarz, a cardiologist and professor at UCLA, not involved in this study, also spoke with MNT about the research.

According to him, “[t]he study also supports the idea […] to promote the concept of a Mediterranean-type diet as the most heart-healthy diet, which in some studies even has [been] shown to result in a regression of atherosclerosis (calcification/hardening) of the blood vessels in the heart, the brain, and even in the sexual organs.”

“Even though we are aware of the long-term benefits of a Mediterranean diet, we do not know the exact mechanisms,” Dr. von Schwarz continued. “Therefore, this study — among others — helps us to understand possible biochemical pathways that are affected by dietary ingredients, including walnuts.”

FINALLY! A Decent Tasting No Sugar Unsweetened Ketchup!

imageI have spent DECADES looking for decent tasting ketchup with no sugar or other sweeteners. Today I found it!

Most ketchups touted as healthy or organic form from the health food store have always been to heavy on the vinegar or not sweet enough. Twice I have made my own but it is laborious and I still wasn’t happy with it.

This one is perfect!

12 Best Foods for a Healthy Brain and Better Memory

Salmon 3

There are MANY things we can do to keep our brains healthy as we age, diet is the most important part! 

Here are other things we can do;  exercise every day, take magnesium morning and night, take B Vitamins, get a great nights sleep every night, be happy.

Leafy greens

Not to parrot your mother, but she was right on this one. Those leafy greens really are good for you, especially your brain. Spinach, collards, kale — you name it. These veggies are rich in brain-boosting nutrients such as beta-carotene, folic acid, lutein and vitamin K. Plus, research has shown that plant-based foods may be especially good for curbing cognitive decline.

Daily recommended intake: Aim for about 1/4 of a cup per day, or 1.5 to 2 cups a week.


Nuts are lauded as a source of protein and healthy fats. But they’re also great brain foods. Each nut has unique benefits, and including pistachios, macadamias and almonds in your diet will definitely support your brain health. But for a real mental power boost, turn to walnuts. They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, both of which are important for preventing mental decline.

Daily recommended intake: A 2021 study found that adults who consumed 15 to 30 grams of nuts per day had notably higher cognitive scores than those who ate less.

Coffee and tea

You may be accustomed to drinking coffee or tea to stay awake, but these caffeinated beverages have more to offer than a simple morning perk-up. Researchers have noted caffeine’s ability to boost the brain’s information-processing capacity, and coffee also packs many powerful antioxidants, which may help support brain health. In addition to both of these, green tea is rich in L-theanine. This powerful amino acid can help manage stress and anxiety, which is important for brain function.

Daily recommended intake: Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day (about four cups of coffee or black tea) is generally considered safe for most adults.


Tomatoes are one of the best foods for brain health, thanks to their rich lycopene content. This powerful carotenoid has been shown to help stave off cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. One fresh, medium tomato contains about 3.2 milligrams of lycopene, and you can also find even more in tomato sauces, pastes and ketchup.

Daily recommended intake: Studies show that 9 to 21 milligrams of lycopene per day may be most beneficial.

Mykhailo Hrytsiv / 500px / Getty Images

Whole grains

Whole grains like whole wheat, oatmeal, barley and brown rice are essential parts of a balanced diet, and they’re known to support cardiovascular health. What’s less well-known is that many whole grains are rich in vitamin E, an important antioxidant that helps reduce the presence of free radicals and prevent neurological damage. Experts also favor consuming vitamin E in its natural form rather than via supplements, making whole grains a great choice for boosting vitamin E intake.

Daily recommended intake: Guidelines recommend at least three servings of whole grains per day, totaling at least 48 grams.


Leafy greens aren’t the only green veggies that make the list of the best foods for brain health. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are also important. These vegetables contain high doses of glucosinolates. When combined with water, these compounds produce isothiocyanates, powerful metabolites known to have neuroprotective properties.

Daily recommended intake: The USDA recommends that adults eat 1.5 to 2.5 grams of cruciferous vegetables per week.

Salmon and tuna

You may make it a habit to avoid fatty foods, but when it comes to fish, fat is a good thing. Fish such as salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with many positive health outcomes, including for the brain. In particular, these healthy fats have been tied to lower levels of beta-amyloid in the blood. This damaging protein forms clumps in the brain that often lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Daily recommended intake: Aim for at least two servings of low-mercury fish such as salmon and light tuna per week.


An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a bunch of berries keeps mental decline at bay. Berries are one of the best brain foods because they’re packed with flavonoids. Not only do these natural pigments make berries colorful, but they also improve brain function, particularly when it comes to memory.

Daily recommended intake: Eating at least two servings (half a cup each) of berries per week has been shown to slow memory decline by as much as two-and-a-half years.

Dark chocolate

If you’re looking for food that’s good for your brain, a delicious treat like dark chocolate might not come to mind. But dark chocolate brings together many of the benefits of the other foods on this list. It’s full of antioxidants, flavonoids and caffeine, making it one of the more brain-healthy foods you can eat. Don’t say I didn’t give you any good news.

Daily recommended intake: A small snack of dark chocolate, 30 to 60 grams a few times a week, may help improve brain function. Make sure it’s at least 70% dark to get the most benefits and limit calories from sugar.


They may be small, but seeds are as nutrient-packed as many nuts, and they make a great snack to munch on. Sunflower seeds, in particular, are rich in vitamin E, whose brain benefits we’ve discussed above. Pumpkin seeds are also a potent source of antioxidants and important minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. Each of these minerals can help guard against cognitive decline or brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression and even epilepsy.

Daily recommended intake: Try to eat 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup of seeds, three or four times a week. You can mix up the types, from pumpkin and sunflower seeds to chia seeds and ground flaxseeds.

Claudia Totir/Getty Images


This go-to breakfast food isn’t just good for a morning protein punch. Eggs are also rich in several important B vitamins, including B6, B12 and B9 (folic acid). Studies show that these vitamins may help prevent brain shrinkage and curb mental decline in older adults.

Daily recommended intake: For most adults, one egg a day is a good target. Your doctor may recommend more or less based on your overall health and cholesterol levels.


Your spice rack probably isn’t the first place you think to look when you’re considering good brain foods. But turmeric, a major ingredient in curry powders, isn’t something you’ll want to overlook if you want to support a healthy mind. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been linked to various positive outcomes for brain health, from protecting against Alzheimer’s to supporting brain cell growth.

Daily recommended intake: Because turmeric is a spice, you likely won’t be able to get as much as you need simply from cooking with it. Speak with your doctor about whether a curcumin supplement would be a good option for you.

Supplements for a healthy brain

In brain health, as with any type of nutrition, it’s best to meet most or all of your needs through your normal daily diet. In other words, eating the foods we’ve looked at above is the best way to keep your brain functioning well for the long haul.

However, if you find it difficult to get what you need with these brain foods, it may be helpful to include some supplements in your diet. You might consider supplements or multivitamins containing any of the following:

  • B vitamins, especially B6, B12 and B9
  • Vitamin C
  • Beta-carotene
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Curcumin
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Brain health is critical to your overall health and well-being, so be sure to consult your physician before you add any supplements to your diet.

First published on Oct. 12, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. PT.

The One Protein Brain Experts Want You to Eat More of as You Age…or at ANY age!

Salmon Ramen Bowl

Protein is most known for helping us build healthy muscles, but the nutrient offers benefits from head to toe. In particular, protein plays an important role in your brain health, and getting enough of the right ones in your diet can help preserve its function.

Protein is found in every cell of the body including the brain, so it’s important to get enough of it through your diet. That said, of all the protein-rich foods out there, some may benefit your brain more than others.

As for which proteins support your brain the most, we asked a neurologist who told us that you can support your cognitive functioning over the years by adding more fatty fish to your routine. Here’s why.

Nutrients in Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, which includes salmon, black cod, anchovies and bluefin tuna, is high in protein and other nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids (a type of “healthy fat“), making it a nutritious addition to any diet.

For example, a 6-ounce filet of cooked salmon provides 43.2 grams of protein and 246 percent of your Daily Value (DV) for omega-3 fatty acids, per the USDA.

With input from Sharon Stoll, DO, a neurologist and Assistant Professor of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine, we take a deep dive into how eating fatty fish on a regular basis can support healthy cognition.

4 Ways Fatty Fish Benefits Your Brain

1. It’s Rich in DHA

The brain consists of about 60 percent fat, so it’s an important nutrient for brain function, according to John Hopkins Medicine. But some forms may be better than others.

Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s commonly associated with brain function, though it also supports a healthy nervous system.

Fish is an ideal source of DHA because it’s readily available. In fact, most of the top food sources of DHA are fatty fish like salmon, tuna and cod, per the USDA. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which gets converted to DHA in the body.

Brain tissue may have a preference for DHA in order to keep the brain functioning normally and efficiently, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


DHA is especially important for brain development in early childhood, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Though its effects are mainly seen in infants, the effects of DHA may also be seen during childhood and adulthood, per a January 2016 review in Nutrients.

In adulthood, low DHA levels have been associated with a higher risk of brain conditions like Alzheimer’s dementia.

2. It Supports Healthy Blood Flow

The body is made up of complex systems, and they don’t work independently from one another. The functioning of your cardiovascular system, for example, can influence your brain health.

“A lot of people don’t realize how interconnected the heart and brain are — you can’t have one without the other,” Stoll says. “Healthy fats are important for brain health because they’re important for the cardiovascular system, which then plays a role in brain functioning.”

Keeping your heart healthy can lower your risk for brain-related health issues like stroke and dementia, according to the CDC. When blood vessels are damaged, your brain can face serious consequences.

“To keep your brain in tip-top shape, we want the blood vessels as open as possible,” Stoll says. That’s where nutrient-dense foods like fatty fish come in.

Protein is an essential nutrient, but animal proteins like pork and some cuts of beef are high in saturated fat, which can raise “bad” cholesterol levels in your blood and clog your arteries. This raises your risk for stroke and heart attack, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Fish is considered a more heart-healthy source of protein because it’s not high in saturated fat. In fact, the omega-3 fatty acids may actually improve endothelial function (the lining of your blood vessels), promote vasodilatation (the widening of blood cells) and decrease artery wall stiffening, according to March 2017 research in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease.


Keeping your heart healthy, then, translates to better blood flow to your brain.

3. It May Help Lower Triglycerides

There’s a lot left to learn about Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, but high triglyceride levels may play a role.

“Eating fatty fish is important for brain health for the same reason it’s important for the heart — it’s associated with lower triglyceride levels,” Stoll says. It’s true: High triglyceride levels in midlife are associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to a January 2018 study in Neurology.

“Triglycerides are part of what blocks those vessels in the brain and throughout the body, which leads to stroke and heart disease,” Stoll says. There’s strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may help lower high triglyceride levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.

4. It May Help Lower Your Risk of Mental Decline

As the number of older adults (age 65+) is steadily increasing, so are rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. An estimated 5.8 million people in the United States are affected by the disease, though the number is expected to rise in the coming years, according to the CDC.

Getting more DHA has been associated with a lower risk of these diseases, according to a June 2022 study in Nutrients. Low levels of DHA have also been linked to a higher risk. All that said, more research is needed to determine the direct benefits DHA may have on cognition.

“While the research isn’t conclusive, one thing is definitely for sure — nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids may help protect your brain over time and could slow down the progression of brain diseases,” Stoll says.

EWG study: Eating one freshwater fish equals a month of drinking ‘forever chemicals’ water

Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Dijon

WASHINGTON – A new study by Environmental Working Group scientists finds that consumption of just a single serving of freshwater fish per year could be equal to a month of drinking water laced with the “forever chemical” PFOS at high levels that may be harmful.

Researchers calculated that eating one fish in a year equated to ingesting water with PFOS at 48 parts per trillion, or ppt, for one month.

The study bolsters EWG’s long-running calls for strict regulation of PFOS and the other toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, in addition to more tests of food such as fish, since diet

is thought to be a major source of PFAS exposure for Americans.

The findings are a particular issue for communities with environmental justice concerns, whose survival often depends on eating freshwater fish they’ve caught.

EWG found the median amounts of PFAS in freshwater fish were an astounding 280 times greater than forever chemicals detected in some commercially caught and sold fish. The testing data, from the Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, showed that consuming a single meal of freshwater fish could lead to similar PFAS exposure as ingesting store-bought fish every day for a year.

“People who consume freshwater fish, especially those who catch and eat fish regularly, are at risk of alarming levels of PFAS in their bodies,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist and one of the study’s lead authors. “Growing up, I went fishing every week and ate those fish. But now when I see fish, all I think about is PFAS contamination.”

The forever chemical found at greatest concentrations in freshwater fish was PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard, averaging roughly three in four of total PFAS detections.

“These test results are breathtaking,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “Eating one bass is equivalent to drinking PFOS-tainted water for a month.”

Consumption of PFOS-contaminated freshwater fish can cause significant increases in peoples’ blood serum levels of the forever chemical, creating potential health risks. Even infrequent consumption of freshwater fish can raise PFOS levels in the body.

“The extent that PFAS has contaminated fish is staggering”, said Nadia Barbo, a graduate student at Duke University and lead researcher on this project. “There should be a single health protective fish consumption advisory for freshwater fish across the country.”

The researchers analyzed data from more than 500 samples of fish filets collected in the U.S. from 2013 to 2015 under monitoring programs by the EPA, the National Rivers and Streams Assessment and the Great Lakes Human Health Fish Fillet Tissue Study. The median level of total PFAS in fish filets was 9,500 nanograms per kilogram, with a median level of 11,800 nanograms per kilogram in the Great Lakes.

“PFAS contaminate fish across the U.S., with higher levels in the Great Lakes and fish caught in urban areas,” said Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., an EWG senior scientist and another co-author. “PFAS do not disappear when products are thrown or flushed away. Our research shows that the most common disposal methods may end up leading to further environmental pollution.”

Freshwater fish are an important source of protein for many people, and PFAS contamination threatens those who cannot afford to purchase commercial seafood. Communities that depend on fishing for sustenance and for traditional cultural practices are inordinately harmed. This makes exposure to chemical pollutants in freshwater fish a textbook case of environmental injustice.

“Identifying sources of PFAS exposure is an urgent public health priority,” said Stoiber.

Industrial pollution

The widespread contamination of fish in rivers and streams across the country further emphasizes the need to end industrial discharges of PFAS.

EWG estimates there may be more than 40,000 industrial polluters of PFAS in the U.S. Tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities, municipal landfills and wastewater treatment plants, airports, and sites where PFAS-containing firefighting foams have been used are potential sources of PFAS discharges into surface water.

This contamination of water has spread PFAS to soil, crops and wildlife, including fish.

“For decades, polluters have dumped as much PFAS as they wanted into our rivers, streams, lakes and bays with impunity. We must turn off the tap of PFAS pollution from industrial discharges, which affect more and more Americans every day,” said EWG’s Faber.

Testing fish for PFAS

The EPA and the FDA test differently to detect PFAS in fish. The EPA uses what’s known as draft Method 1633 to test for up to 40 PFAS compounds in fish tissue, as well as in wastewater, surface water, groundwater, soil, biosolids, sediment and the liquid that forms when waste breaks down in landfills.

National EPA tests show nearly all fish in U.S. rivers and streams are contaminated with PFAS in the parts-per-billion range – even greater than parts per trillion. Although the most recent test results found decreasing PFAS levels, freshwater fish are still contaminated at high levels.

The FDA improved its scientific method to test for 20 different PFAS compounds. Its approach is used to test seafood samples, as well as processed foods. In its 2022 survey of seafood, the FDA found much lower levels of PFAS in seafood from grocery stores. The median levels of total PFAS detected by the EPA were 280 times higher than levels in commercially sold fish tested by the FDA.

Health risks

PFAS are among the most persistent compounds in existence, contaminating everything from drinking water to food, food packaging and personal care products. PFAS build up in our bodies and never break down in the environment. They are found in the blood of virtually everyone, including newborn babies.

Very low doses of PFAS in drinking water have been linked to suppression of the immune system, including reduced vaccine efficacy, and an increased risk of certain cancers. PFAS are linked with increased cholesterol, reproductive and developmental problems and other health harms.

More than 200 million Americans could be drinking water contaminated with PFAS. The problem is likely worse than has already been confirmed, further underscoring the need for swift regulatory action.

“The EPA needs to move swiftly to set regulations for the industries most likely to be dumping PFAS into the environment. Downstream communities especially have suffered the consequences of unregulated PFAS discharges for far too long,” added Faber.

How Ultra-Processed Foods Can Raise Risk of Cognitive Decline

Proccessed Foods 2

  • A new study concludes that regular consumption of ultra-processed foods raises a person’s risk of cognitive decline.
  • In an earlier study, Australian researchers also reported that ultra-processed foods can negatively impact cognitive functions.
  • These foods include packaged snacks and pre-prepared dishes such as pizza and pies.
  • These studies line up with previous research that indicates that an unhealthy diet can impair cognitive abilities and raise the risk of dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

New research indicates that regularly consuming ultra-processed foods such as hot dogs and frozen pizza can raise your risk of cognitive decline.

In a study Trusted Source published today in the journal JAMA Neurology, researchers looked at more than 10,000 individuals over a median period of 8 years.

They concluded that people whose daily calorie intake is at least 20% from ultra-processed foods had a 25% faster decline in executive functions and a 28% faster rate of overall cognitive impairment.

The researchers noted that if a person’s overall diet quality was high, the effect of ultra-processed foods was less.

“While this is a study of association, not designed to prove cause and effect, there are a number of elements to fortify the proposition that some acceleration in cognitive decay may be attributed to ultra-processed foods,” Dr. David Katz, a specialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine and nutrition, told CNN.

“The sample size is substantial and the follow-up extensive. While short of proof, this is robust enough that we should conclude ultra-processed foods are probably bad for our brains,” he added.

Other studies find similar effects from ultra-processed foods

The new findings are in line with another study published in July in the European Journal of Nutrition that also suggested that consuming ultra-processed foods may have a negative impact on cognitive performance in older adults.

The researchers from Australia conducting the study told Healthline they defined ultra-processed foods as those that undergo “several industrial processes that can’t be reproduced at home.”

They noted that these items contain little to no whole foods and typically include flavorings, colorings, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives.

Examples include packaged snacks, chocolates, breakfast cereals, and pre-prepared dishes such as pies, pasta, and pizza.

That’s opposed to processed foods that the researchers defined as foods that commonly have added sugar, oil, or salt. The processing is used to increase the durability or enhance the “sensory qualities” of the food. Examples include canned veggies, fruits, legumes, and salted, cured, or smoked meats.

Another study published in the journal Neurology also reported that people who consume high amounts of ultra-processed foods such as sodas, chips, and cookies may have a higher risk of developing dementia.

What the research revealed

Using a cross-sectional study, the team of Australian researchers evaluated more than 2,700 participants who were 60 years or older.

The participants were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination SurveyTrusted Source from 2011 to 2014. Each participant recalled what they ate in a 24-hour period on two nonconsecutive days.

The team used standardized, validated tests, including one that assesses Alzheimer’s disease. They concluded that consuming ultra-processed foods was associated with worse performances in one of the tests among older people who did not have pre-existing diseases.

Researchers told Healthline the findings suggest that decreasing ultra-processed foods may be a way to improve impaired cognition among older adults.

“Research indicates that diets that follow a Mediterranean Diet style, recognized by the high proportion of foods with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, are associated with a reduced risk of age-associated cognitive decline and dementia,” said Barbara Cardoso, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a senior lecturer in nutrition, dietetics, and food at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

“Foods consumed as part of these diets include fish, nuts, olive oil, and vegetables,” she said.

Reaction to the study

Experts say these findings are consistent with what they’ve learned from other studies about diet and dementia.

“There is growing evidence that what we eat can impact our brains as we age and many studies suggest it is best to eat a heart-healthy, balanced diet low in processed foods and high in whole, nutritional foods like vegetables and fruits,” said Percy Griffin, Ph.D., director of scientific engagement for the Alzheimer’s Association.

“So, it’s not surprising that this paper found that a diet high in ultra-processed foods impaired cognition in older adults,” he told Healthline.

Another study published in the journal Neurology last year also suggested there were benefits from a Mediterranean diet on brain health.

The researchers concluded that their findings corroborated the view that a Mediterranean diet could be a ”protective factor against memory decline and mediotemporal atrophy,” or shrinkage of the lobe of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimatesTrusted Source that nearly 6 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

By 2060, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is predicted to rise to an estimated 14 million.

Communities of color could be affected the most. Cases among Hispanics could increase seven times over the current estimates. Among African Americans, cases could increase four times the current estimates.

In San Francisco, a new community-based program is designed to focus on known modifiable risk factors to help prevent dementia.

Posit Science along with the YMCA is launching a model “Brain Health Program” funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The program, which is expected to be in operation in 6 months, will offer classes to at-risk adults. Part of the training will focus on the diet and nutrition principles the YMCA has been using in its Diabetes Prevention Program.

“Eating a brain-healthy diet is a big part of the Brain Health Program,” said Henry Mahncke, Ph.D., the chief executive officer of Posit Science.

“The future of brain health and dementia prevention is changing what we do in our everyday life so we build healthy, resilient brains that keep going as long as our bodies keep going,” he told Healthline. “Just about everything we eat gets sent by the bloodstream up to our brains, and so it’s not surprising to brain health experts that what we eat matters for our brain health, our cognitive performance, and our risk of dementia.”

The next steps in research

The Australian researchers say their study is the first to investigate the association between ultra-processed foods and cognitive decline.

“As such, it sheds light for future studies that aim at providing stronger evidence unraveling potential mechanisms involved,” said Cardoso.

She explained the study had some limitations. It looked at a specific point in time whereas it may take years for impaired cognition to develop. They relied on participants to recall their dietary intake, which might not always be an accurate representation of their usual dietary intake.

“The next step for this research is to study if reducing the amount of ultra-processed foods in one’s diet could improve cognition,” said Griffin.

He noted that there will be more research on the impact of an unhealthy diet on dementia risk introduced at the upcoming Alzheimer’s Association International Conference that begins July 31.