Brain Foods

Large Clinical Trial Improves Brain Function

Brain Function improved when women ate the right foods in this study. Brigham and Women’s Hospital completed medical studies of 16,000 women under the direction of Elizabeth Devore. This is actually one of the Nurses Health Studies, which are long term studies of women’s health.

The team discovered specific “brain food” that slowed mental decline which often accompanies aging. Women in the 50 to 60 age range were followed via phone calls and questionnaires about their diet until they were in their 70’s. At that time the women were brought into the lab for six different cognitive function tests.

The research team compared several factors of the women that are known to affect mental cognition, such as education, income, diet and other social-economic factors. The surprising findings concluded that women who ate berries weekly slowed down their mental decline by 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years. For the positive mental effect to take place the women ate 1/2 cup of blue berries or 1 cup of strawberries per week. Food for the brain does improve memory and brain function.

Berries Galore

Source

The Blood-Brain Barrier

Flavenoid - Anthocyanidin

In previous studies on rodents scientists discovered that a key compound found in berries is a flavonoid, called anthropocentric, and it crossed the blood brain barrier. This remarkable fact is unique, as many medications do not even cross this barrier. The anthocyanidin seeps into the blood and into the brain tissue, specifically the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory.

This antioxidant also fights inflammation and oxidation, both processes that affect aging brain cells. Anthocyanidins are actually sugarless plant pigments, which give the intense color to fruits and vegetables. Eating these fruits and vegetables which contain anthocyanidins does not guarantee you won’t get Alzheimer’s disease or dementia but it does improve your odds. The fact that it also fights inflammation and oxidation will help prevent other diseases as well, such as heart disease and arthritis.

In the study other factors were taken into account, which are considered brain-healthy habits. These include having more education, participating in intellectually satisfying pursuits and maintaining a network of activities with friends. Elizabeth Devore stated, “In the end, we did not see a lot of confounding from these factors.” The diet including anthocyanidin was the single factor that slowed mental decline.

Red Cabbage

Source

Red Onion

Source

List of Foods with Anthocyanidins

Eat fruit and vegetables that contain dark colors. They can be fresh or frozen. Some foods, such as eggplant, should be eaten including the skin, which contains the bulk of the antioxidant. Green tea is also a source. Anthocyanidins and flavonoids are found in these colorful foods. They reduce the effect of stress in our everyday lives.

This is a list of healthy brain foods:

  • Blueberries - Eat alone, with cereal, in yogurt or in muffins.
  • Red or black grapes - Obviously a tasty snack.
  • Cranberries - These berries are tart and many people desire added sugar, so try getting them into your diet with a cranberry blend drink, dried on a salad or in cranberry sauce if this is a problem.
  • Rasberries and Blackberries - These berries are loaded with anthocyanidins and buy them in season. Store a supply in your freezer.
  • Red Cabbage - Use the cabbage in slaw, soups, salads or cooked anyway you desire.
  • Red onions - These are great for salads, on sandwiches, soups or pasta dishes. Use them raw when possible.
  • Eggplant - Consider eating them whole when roasting or fixing them in a way that includes the skin.

How to Get More Antioxidants into Your Diet

In Conclusion

More research needs to be done, but it obvious that what we eat has a lot to do with our general health and how we age. As new science develops, they are learning much more about the impact of food and our lifestyles on our health.

Most people really like fruits, which makes eating the ones with anthocyanidins a pleasure. They are great for a snack and you really do not need to eat a large quantity in order to receive the positive effects. Enjoy your diet!

© 2012 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 63 comments

SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 4 years ago from eastern North Dakota

Interesting hub, Pamela, I'm always looking for "easy" ways to stay healthy, and eating the right foods is a pretty easy way. Didn't know though, that red onions are better than the others. This year I have all three colors growing in the cold frame. Maybe next year I'll just go with the red. Thank you!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

This is interesting. So many berries a loaded with carbohydrates though. Strawberries usualy cause a spike in my glucose.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very interesting; at sixty-three I can use all the brain food I can find. :) Great hub!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

My biggest problem is that I can never remember the brain foods I need to keep my brain functioning! Up useful and interesting.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

Foods that are high in antioxidants are also great anti-aging foods as well. These foods fight free radicals. This is a great article Pamela. I only wish I could eat more berries but they are so expensive here since they aren't grown locally. I am trying to get some planted in my back yard but not sure if our climate will allow it.


incomeguru profile image

incomeguru 4 years ago from Lagos

This is what makes researchers unique. They have scientific knowledge, which they applied when conducting the research, and there was no ambiguity in their findings. Thanks!


mts1098 profile image

mts1098 4 years ago from InsideTheManCave

Hey now I have some brain food to read some more of your hubs...I will take the blueberries, blackberries and red onion...great job here...cheers


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

This is great information to know and one that will be taken to heart for sure! I love fresh berries and now I will make sure to eat them regularly. Thanks for sharing.


sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Thanks, Pamela99. Brain function is getting a lot of attention these days, so this is an important topic for a hub. We all have more control than we think over how our brain ages. Your hubs always provide useful information in an easy to read format. Thanks for SHARING.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Sunrob, Its great that you are growing your own vegetables and fruit. A red garden sounds pretty! Thank you so much for your comments.

daholong, Your blood sugar certainly must be your first consideration. Maybe you will have to settle more for the vegetables. Thanks for your comments.

BPOP, I need all the help I can get also. I appreciate your comments.

Cardisa, I imagine many of the foods listed are expensive. They grow strawberries in southern FL and CA, so I wonder if they would grow in Jamaica? Thank you for your comments.

incomeguru, I agree with you, and they have made so many advances with their research. Thank you for your comments.

mtns, I like you choices. I appreciate your comments.

teaches, I love berries also and I am happy about these study results. I appreciate your comments.

sandrabushy, I think it is great they are learning more about the brain. I appreciate the compliments. Thank you.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Yum. I'd better find more ways to get berries in my diet. :) I need all the mental help I can get. :D


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

I already knew about the healthful properties of berries, Pamela, but I forgot. Guess I need more berries. So thanks for reminding me. I'll get some frozen packages and keep them in the fridge.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago

Thanks for the information. Anthocyanins are such powerful antioxidants and i'm glad I love all the fruits and vegetables mentioned. Rated up.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

cclitgirl, You aren't alone! Thanks for your comment.

drbj, That's a good idea. I appreciate your comments.

anginwu, That makes eating healthy easy. I appreciate your comments.


robie2 profile image

robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

Goodie goodie-- it's almost strawberry season and I already eat lots of blueberries and oh yes I love cabbage and carrots-- but in spite of all that my brain is a sieve :-( oh nevermind:-)

I loved this hub-- lots of useful info well presented, Voting up, useful, awesome and interesting.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

robie, It's really nice that the choices are so tasty. I have the same brain problem! I appreciate your comments.


TotalHealth profile image

TotalHealth 4 years ago from Hermosa Beach, CA

Great hub! Other foods containing anthocyanins include plums, prunes, raisins, red pears and strawberries.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

TotalHealth, The easy way to remember is the more color the better, looking especially for reds and purples. Thanks for your comments.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Amazing! Luckily we are choosing the right greens for antioxidating process in our own body. We love healthier meals. Your hub is easy to follow and practical! Voted up! and useful!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

lord de cross, It id great that we are learning more and more about what constitutes a healthy diet that fights the free radicals, giving us better health and possibly a longer life. Thanks for your comments.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

this is great information. I love all types of berries and could certainly do with some more brain power! seriously I used to be quite intelligent! lol! but as the years have gone by I know I am not quite so quick so anything that will help is great! I think a lot of our brain power and memory does start to go as we get older not only because of health but also because we have so much information that we have taken in over the years we seem to get lost with learning things as easily as we did, so yes I am going to start on the fruits in a big way, wonderful hub and voted up and shared!


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

A very interesting hub!

I'm surprised that Pomegranates are not listed. Guess that means I'm switching to the berries. Thanks for sharing. Voted Useful!


Knowledge-Broker profile image

Knowledge-Broker 4 years ago

I love articles about health. The brain is so very important. I also love strawberries and blueberries. I love ketchup as well. Love tomatoes which are actually a fruit. I have eaten so many tomatoes in my lifetime. I recommend growing your own tomates. They grow so easy. Also, I love blackberries, raspberries, and peaches. I like rubarb, cherries, grapes, and generally any kind of berries and fruit. I also love red onions and cabage. Love lots of red onion on salad. Voted up, and useful and interesting!


Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

Good hub - I've read and experienced benefit of this information... you did a great job of spreading the word.

Thanks


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Pamela: This is a wonderful informative and interesting hub. Your health tips are great and it is so good to know the research and studies available on these fruits and veggies. I try to eat as much of these as I can each week and I am certainly staying active and involved in fun, but also activities that make me think and exercise my noodle. LOL It is not hard to change to a diet rich in veggies and fruit. Thank you for sharing this pertinent information. Voted up and interesting!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

Very nice hub. Antioxidants are so crucial for overall health!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Nell Rose, I think you are right as when I look back on my life there are things I excelled at that I could no longer do well. I have been eating many of these items for years but not in any regimented way, so I'm increasing my fruits also. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

I would imagine pomegranates should be on the list. I research a few sites but they may not have listed everything and I think choosing vegetables and fruits with bright colors is the key. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

It sounds like your brain is going to be functioning at a high level for years! hehe I actually love all those foods also. Thank you so much for your comments. :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Neil, It is good to be informed and I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Suzette, I agree that the change in eating habits is easy when the fruits are so tasty. Thank you for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Kris, I am glad there is so much more information available now on antioxidants. Thank you for your comments.


caramellatte profile image

caramellatte 4 years ago

Cool and interesting hub!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

caramellatte, Thank you for your comment.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Wonderful information and a great hub, Pamela99, as usual! :) I wonder if it would make me a better writer as well as improve my..uh...what was I saying? :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

TToombs, Cute comment and I relate well. Thank you.


snowdrops profile image

snowdrops 4 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

You are very ahhmmazing Pamela! This hub is really really good!

I love berries!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

snowdrops, Thank you for your kind comments and I love berries also. I liked doing some research for this hub.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

Pamela, interesting information. I had not read about these foods crossing the "blood-brain barrier." That is new to me. I did know that blueberries are very healthy and try to eat them almost every day. Thanks for sharing such great, current information. Wonderful hub!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

praireprincess, I am glad this hub was informative to you and I appreciate your comments.


STEVEW13 profile image

STEVEW13 4 years ago from Norwich, England

This is great info Pamela, I too knew about blueberries being good for the brain, but the rest is all education to me, thanks so much for sharing :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

SteveW, I'm glad the information was helpful and I appreciate your comments.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Colorful foods are so important in the diet; your article is additional proof that this is true, good article.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Coolman, I always try to think about food with a lot of color. I appreciate your comments.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Such a useful hub! I had grapes as a snack last night and am now quite proud of myself :)


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Great information. I knew about the berries but not the red cabbage and eggplant. I had better start cooking them!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Christy, I keep trying to remember that I can reach for fruit just as easily as dessert (as long as the dessert isn't too close by). Thanks for your comments.

rebecca, It is amazing that scientist are learning so many new things that actually impact our health in a positive way. I appreciate your comments.


Jlava73 profile image

Jlava73 4 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

This is a great resource. I love Berries - the fact that they have some many added benefits is just a bonus. Many will benefit from your Hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Jlava, I feel the same way as I would eat the berries anyway. I appreciate your comments.


ienjoythis profile image

ienjoythis 3 years ago from Nevada

Pamela, this is a really great hub. I love eggplant! I was hesitant to try it at first but I really like it baked. Blueberries are tasty in oatmeal! Cranberries are iffy with me. Has to be paired with the right thing. Informative hub!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

lenjoyhis, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

I knew about the berries but I didn't know about the benefit of eggplants and red onions. I like them both and use them often in meals. This was a very insightful article. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose


Mommymay profile image

Mommymay 3 years ago from Ohio

LOVE IT!!! Its nice that people are starting to recognize that over the counter supplements are not always necessary! There is power in real food!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Rose, I am glad you found this article helpful and I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Mommymay, I wish everyone knew that. I think there are a few OTC items, like D3 are beneficial for some people who don't get out in the sun, but we can really get everything we need in our food. Thanks so much for your comments.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS

Excellent article, Pamela. I grew up in a family who ate plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables whenever they were available and am dedicated to eating lots of them now - always. I began about 25 year ago having a large bowl of fresh fruit first thing each mooring, allowing enough time for it to quickly digest and leave the tummy before eating other foods. I always try to include berries, grapes, a 'pom', a citrus, a banana, some kind of melon, and then any other goodie I find, such as mangos, pineapple, etc. I'm a firm believer in the health benefits of each kind of fruit, and veggies, too. I love red and yellow varieties, which are so rich in health benefits. I use red onions and cabbage in lots of dishes. I have eggplant occasionally, but usually peel it. I think I'll try baking it whole and eating the skin. Why not?

Current TV has been talking about new evidence that vitamin pills may not only be relatively ineffective but can also have some health risks! I've avoided taking pills for my nutrients for a long time. I may not be a study case, but I am here to say that, at soon-to-be 82, my mind is perhaps sharper than ever, I am healthy and routinely take no prescription meds and seldom any OTC ones. When I do, it is ibuprofen for an occasional muscle cramp or ache or Alka-Seltzer Plus for any oncoming cold symptoms, each of which usually fixes whatever the problem might have been.

I prefer using a wild herb, horehound, as a steam-breathing remedy for treating cold and sore throat symptoms, though. It grows rampantly at the ranch but I haven't had the chance to collect any for quite awhile. My ranch managers are finally beginning to identify what it is and are trying to save me some. Only thing is, they don't know how properly to care for it for transit and storage yet. I hate to impose an extra chore on them, when their time down there is for more imperative projects. But when I collect it, I wash it thoroughly after picking, air-dry it easily in that arid climate, then package it in ziplock bags. I suspect they may just pick it and stuff it into a bag, dust, moisture in its leaves and stems, and all. Will be interesting to find out. They keep forgetting to bring what they've picked over to me, so I've not actually seen their work with it as yet. haha

I am so delighted that you're spreading the good news about the benefits of these particular fresh fruits and veggies, Pamela. The practice of just popping vitamin pills en lieu of natural dietary nutrients for health has become almost the 'norm' nowadays. I hope a new wave of good food consciousness is on the way! Articles such as this will help! Thank you!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Nellieanna, I have taken vitamins along with eating healthy for years, but now I have cut out all the vitamins except for D as I can't drink milk or spend much time in the sun. I like the way you eat a nice mixture of fruit first. I think I may try that. We are fortunate that our orange tree is in bloom as we enjoy fresh juice every morning for a few more weeks, and I use organic methods on the tree, which has paid off. I don't eat meat very often as I love vegetables and I like to have fish about once a week also.

I think the way your diet is probably responsible for your good health, even if you have good genes. haha Your mind is obviously sharp as anyone can see when they read your lovely poetry place so beautifully along with pictures, flowers, etc.

I am not familiar with horehound but it sounds very useful. Thanks so much for all this information and we can all learn something from your healthy diet. I hope people will may attention to these articles and shows on the TV that discuss the new things scientist have learned about vitamins. Thanks again.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS

Thank you for your helpful reply. I don't drink animal milk or get a lot of sun, either. Probably would benefit from Vit. D.

How wonderful to have your own orange tree! I must rely on store citrus. I also love Texas grapefruit when in season, and use lemons freely. In fact I have a cup of fresh lemon juice in warm water even before my fruit for its excellent natural diuretic effects. Never have any kidney problems. Mostly have healthy habits in that regard, though I do love my coffee. No sodas, though. I think limited meat in the diet is healthy for kidneys, too.

I usually have fish at least once a week, though I've been disrupted by having dental implants which is a lengthy process which upset my diet routine somewhat. Started off with needing lots of jello consistency things, but it's become more normal. The regular cooked supper things gave way to more soups, though I've managed to get my fruit and fresh salad veggies. There's a 4-month period of letting the implant bases in the gums heal and normalize before the 'tops' are added. I'm about a month and a half from the finishing steps.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Nellianna, The lemons are so healthy. We have taked about planting a lemon tree, but it will also just produce for a couple of months each year. We have a grapefruit tree also, and they are almost ripe also. I stopped drinking sodas about 4 years ago also.

I know the dental implants take time, but I didn't realize just how long. The result will be wonderful when you are finished. I really like soups and we have them quit often in cool weather.

I have really enjoyed talking to you and sharing our experience. I think you have inspired me to make a few more changes in my diet plan.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS

I hope you do get a lemon tree! That would be great!

I was born in Del Rio, right on the Mexico border, but not down in "The Valley" where Texas produce really thrives. Citrus and even banana trees grew in Del Rio, though the flavors were not outstanding. It would be part of the 'desert' but for a massive springs which supplies huge amounts of water for irrigating.

Our family spent all summer every summer at the ranch 100 mies further west, though, in the heart of semi-arid country, where we were lucky if we could grow onions and peppers. As a kid, I'd sit in the garden eating onions and hot peppers for my veggie craving.

We took supplies of fresh produce when we went out there at the beginning of the summer, but were there ALL summer and had no electricity, so no refrigeration. When supplies of perishables ran out, that was it for the summer, unless occasionally Dad went to Del Rio (the 100 miles partly over rugged ranch roads and in a model T that didn't make good time, anyway). He'd replenish our food supplies, but they were business trips, including bringing back feed for the livestock and 'staples' for the workers, such as dried beans, flour, sugar and cornmeal!

Mother made bread, we had milk cows, eggs and could have some of our own chicken or lamb for meat occasionally. Mother made jerky to preserve some of the meat and cottage cheese to preserve some of the milk. She was ingenious making cooling facilities with water, breeze and cloth, but that had its limitations.

What was most scarce out there was fresh produce. We had plenty of it during the school year when the family lived in Del Rio while Dad just commuted to the ranch. If Mother needed to go out with him at times, I was farmed out to friends while they were both away. My parents believed in good nutrition, but those were days of sacrifice and near-deprivation, so we managed. They were building from 'nothing' and doing a challenging thing in the best of times, but it was also during the worst of the Great Depression. It was also a wonderful time in so many ways!

I bow to Florida citrus, but there is nothing better than South Texas red grapefruit! I wait for its season!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Nellianna, Your history realuy shows how times have changed; yet, we are still are bound by our environment. I love red grapefruite and won't argue about them. It sounds like you had hard working, good parents who knew how to make the best of things. Thanks for sharing this part of your life.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida

Hi I probably commented on is months ago but every time I see an article about brain foods I must stop. I have also written about this topic and while I am not an expert I know of the many healthful properties of foods including the ones you have cited.

The great news besides the healthful part is that most of them are so yummy. Thanks for sharing Pamela....

Angels are on the way ps


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Patricia, I haver read some of your excllent hubs on this topic also. This is an interesting subject. Thank you for your comments and the angels. Sending some back to you and wishing you a Merry Christmas.

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