Studies have linked eating certain foods with a decline in the risk of developing dementia. According to research, some specific foods could have a role to play in slowing or reducing cognitive decline – including vegetables, fish and nuts.
Researchers found that a “heart-healthy” diet also proved itself to be good for the brain.
Researcher Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, associate professor of neurology at Columbia University told WebMD: “In general, these foods are part of what we consider a healthy diet for other reasons, such as protection against heart disease. And they could help [your brain].”
Among the recommended foods was one seasonal vegetable many of us will be enjoying this Christmas.
Brussel sprouts, part of the cruciferous vegetable family, are among those which were found to be beneficial in aiding cognitive health.
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A study presented at the American Neurological Association (ANA) followed the diets of 1,691 people aged 65 and older with no signs of dementia when they entered the study.
The researchers looked at various foods rich in nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, which have been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Mr Scarmeas said: “We discovered an Alzheimer’s-disease-protective dietary pattern that was characterised by a high consumption of nuts, fish, salad dressing, poultry, tomatoes, cruciferous, dark, and green leafy vegetables and fruits.”
Cruciferous vegetables are also cited as beneficial in warding off dementia due to the high levels of B vitamins and carotenoids in cruciferous vegetables.
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According to Healthcareassociates.com these “have the ability to reduce levels of homocysteine — an amino acid linked to cognitive decline, brain atrophy, and dementia”.
Other cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and collard greens.
Along with cruciferous vegetables, an array of other food items may be able to reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Spices, such as sage, cumin and cinnamon may be able to “eat away at brain plaque and reduce inflammation to prevent cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s”, according to Healthcareassociates.
Some experts also suggest following a “Mediterranean-style diet”.
Alzheimer’s.org states: “There is some evidence that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the risk of developing problems with memory and thinking, and getting some forms of dementia.”
These diets are traditionally high in fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals.
They also incorporate a moderate serving of oily fish and dairy and are typically low in meat, sugar and saturated fat.
The NHS recommends people eat a “healthy, balanced diet” in order to maintain brain health.
The health service states: “The research concluded that by modifying the risk factors we are able to change, our risk of dementia could be reduced by around a third.
“Experts agree that what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain.”
This means that, along with eating a balanced diet, people can also reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly.
People are also advised to keep alcohol within recommended limits and quit smoking if this is something they currently do.