6 Foods to Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease often begins with what appears to be simple forgetfulness, but it wreaks much more havoc over time, destroying speech, comprehension, and coordination and causing restlessness and dramatic mood swings. The right diet may delay the onset of the disease or lower your risk by as much as 40 per cent.

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Walnuts can help reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You may know these as staples of the famously heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, but recent evidence suggests they can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, too. Eating fatty fish such as salmon, herring, or white tuna once a week may slow cognitive decline by 10%.

Omega-3 fatty acids, especially the type known as DHA found in fatty fish appear to be the key. Since high levels of DHA are needed for normal brain development, that makes sense. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids of all varieties – including those found in walnuts, flaxseed, and olive oil – counter inflammation, which may contribute to protein build-up in the brain.

Reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease with the MIND Diet Meal Plan.

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Broccoli in wooden bowl
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Foods Rich in Vitamins C and E

The by-product of all of the chemical reactions in our busy brains are free radicals, unstable molecules that damage cells, possibly speeding up mental decline. Foods that contain antioxidants neutralize those free radicals, “mopping up” the “pollution” in your brain.

Research on the dietary habits of large groups of people has found that eating plenty of foods rich in vitamin C (like red peppers, currants, broccoli, and strawberries) and vitamin E (like olive oil and almonds) may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

In a study conducted by researchers at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, people who consumed the most vitamin E from foods (averaging 11.4 IU) had a risk of Alzheimer’s that was a whopping 67 per cent lower than that of people who got the least (averaging 6.2 IU).

The effect of supplements is less clear, possibly because they tend to be taken in high-dose increments, unlike food that’s eaten over a lifetime. Foods also contain all forms of vitamin E, whereas supplements typically contain only one type, alpha-tocopherol. The different forms of vitamin E neutralize different forms of free radicals.

Here are 13 essential vitamins for your body.

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Pomegranate juice
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Foods and Beverages High in Flavonoids

To defend themselves from solar radiation and hungry herbivores, plants have created an arsenal of protective chemicals called polyphenols. Flavonoids are among the toughest of these, and they also fall into the antioxidant category.

Flavonoid-rich fruits include apples, blueberries, cranberries, and grapefruit. Vegetables that boast flavonoids include asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, kidney and lima beans, onions, peas, and spinach. One study found that people who drank fruit and vegetable juices such as orange, apple, or tomato three times a week were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. An animal study showed that pomegranate juice halved the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in rats. Other studies show that the more flavonoids a person eats, the lower the likelihood of developing dementia.

Plus: 20 Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables You Should Be Eating

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Curry powder
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Curry Powder

Cooks in India and other countries use curry abundantly, and the incidence of Alzheimer’s is lower in these places than in many Western nations. Curry could be one of the reasons. A prime ingredient in curry powder is turmeric, which contains curcumin (which gives curry its yellow color).

Studies have shown that people who consumed the highest amounts of curried foods actually have better brain performance. Autopsies on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients have revealed thick clumps of a protein called amyloid. In lab and animal studies, researchers have found that curcumin is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-amyloid compound. It binds to amyloid proteins and prevents them from grouping together to form plaque, so it may be that curcumin offers a triple blow to Alzheimer’s disease.

Try adding these eight amazing Indian spices to your dishes.

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Dried assorted beans
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Foods High in Folate

Doctors have known for years that deficiency of certain B vitamins, particularly folate, can make it difficult to perform some cognitive tasks. New evidence shows that even slightly low levels can have a similar effect because folate, along with vitamins B6 and B12, helps to keep homocysteine levels in check. This amino acid impairs brain function and can dramatically increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease (as well as heart disease). The good news is that folate from foods like dark leafy greens and dried beans may slow cognitive decline.

Plus: 5 Facts About Heart Disease Every Woman Should Know

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Red wine being poured
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One French study showed that drinking three 125-millilitre (4-ounce) glasses of wine per day reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a whopping 75 per cent. Cheers to that!

Don’t let that bottle go to waste! Here are eight ingenious uses for leftover wine.

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