Eat Smart to Keep Your Brain in Tip-Top Shape
Herring, sardines, and anchovies are high in omega-3s and low in contaminants that accumulate in fish, like mercury and pesticides
Many of the changes that we’ve come to associate with “normal” aging may not be inevitable. Give these tips a try to keep your brain healthy as you age:
- Eat the rainbow. Blueberries and other dark-skinned fruits and berries are high in antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. People who eat these foods regularly appear to be less likely to develop conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease later in life.
- Lubricate. Nuts, seeds, and olive oil are naturally rich sources of monounsaturated fats that may help preserve cognitive function.
- Try small fish for big benefits. Herring, sardines, and anchovies are good choices: they are high in omega-3s and low in contaminants that accumulate in fish, like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), mercury, and pesticides.
- Choose tuna with care. Albacore ("white") tuna has more omega-3 than canned "light" tuna, but it also has higher levels of contaminants. In general, canned tuna should be eaten in moderation (once or twice per week for non-pregnant adults), and tuna steaks should be eaten infrequently (no more than once per month).
- Select salmon. As sources of omega-3s, all types of salmon are considered good, but for the safest fish, stick to wild salmon like chum, coho, and pink. Canned salmon is easy, nutritious, and safe to enjoy several times per week.
- Think outside the box. Less commonly eaten fish that have high levels of omega-3s and are relatively nontoxic include Alaskan sablefish (also called black cod), North Atlantic mackerel, Arctic char, and Pacific oysters.
- Not a fish person? Try specialty eggs. Omega-3-rich eggs from chickens fed flax meal can provide a bit of the omega-3s missing from the diet.