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Posts Tagged ‘Omega-3 fatty acid’

Does what we eat affect how we think? Yes, according to recent research—especially as we grow older. We may joke about “senior moments,” but for most of us, it’s no laughing matter. We fear dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Who among us is more likely to be a target for decreased mental abilities?

Specific nutrients affect memory and learning. A diet with lots of sugar-rich foods has a negative impact. As one study noted, sugar makes you dumber. Rats fed extra fructose in their drinking water lacked the ability to think clearly and to recall the route of a maze they had learned several weeks earlier. However, even with the fructose, omega-3 fatty acids added to their regular diets caused them to remember the route faster.

Researchers theorized that high amounts of fructose blocks insulin’s ability to regulate the cell’s use and storage for energy that’s required to process thoughts and emotions. Thus, they concluded that high-fructose harmed the brain and the body.

Likewise, saturated fats may decrease memory and reduce brain function while unsaturated fats may improve it. Total fat doesn’t seem to affect mental tasks, but the type does. Even slight negative changes in cognitive skill increases the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Another study noted how omega-3 fatty acids protect the aging brain. Researchers tested 1,500 people with an average age of sixty-seven. Those who ate diets lacking omega-3 fatty acids aged faster and lost memory and thinking ability. Researchers did MRI brain scans, measured mental function, body mass, and omega-3 fatty acid in the red blood cells. Those who scored in the lower twenty-five percent of omega-3 fatty acid levels in their blood had smaller brains and scored lower on memory and abstract reasoning. They mentally appeared two years older than the remaining seventy-five percent.

How can you improve the way your brain works? High-sugar and high-saturated fat in the diet seem to do harm. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, improve memory. Also, berries have nutrients that contribute to brain health. Berries contain high levels of phytochemicals. Although berries differ in their combination of these substances, each contributes antioxidant effects that may help prevent age-related brain degeneration and changes in cognition and motor function. For best results, try a serving of berries—blueberries, strawberries, blackberries— each day.

Your memory may not be as sharp as in years past, but by careful selection of what you eat, you can keep your mind more alert and improve recall. What do you have to lose—except your mind?

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November is American Diabetes Month. Nearly 26 million American children and adults have diabetes, and 79 million more are at risk with pre-diabetes.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and blindness in adults. Two out of three with this malady will die from heart disease or stroke. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates the annual national cost of the disease at $174 billion.

Food plays a significant role for those with diabetes as well as those with the potential to develop type 2 diabetes. Why aren’t we paying attention?

The ADA identifies ten superfoods beneficial not only to those with the disease, but also to the rest of us.

  • Beans.  Take your pick from pinto, kidney, navy or black beans. All are high in fiber and provide exceptional sources of magnesium and potassium. Also, they are high in protein.
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables.  These include spinach, kale, collards, and others. They’re low in calories and carbohydrates and packed with needed vitamins, especially vitamin A.
  • Citrus Fruit.  Fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and lemons are loaded with vitamin C.
  • Sweet Potatoes.  These all-time favorites, especially during holidays, are a starchy vegetable abundant in vitamin A and fiber. They make a great substitute for white potatoes because of their lower Glycemic Index.
  • Berries.  Pick your favorite. All are abundant in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.
  • Tomatoes. Most people enjoy this food in many ways from fresh slices to ubiquitous tomato sauces and salsa. They provide vitamin C, iron, vitamin E, and other nutrients.
  • Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids.  Salmon is the usual favorite, but mackerel, tuna, herring, and halibut are other great choices.
  • Whole Grains.  Check labels carefully. Whole wheat means the product contains bran—the outer hard shell, germ—packed with most of the nutrients, and endosperm—the starchy part. Most wheat breads are made from the endosperm. Whole grains contain rich sources of B-vitamins plus
    magnesium, chromium, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Nuts.   They provide satiety value—help you feel full longer—and are great for weight management if you don’t eat too many. They contain healthy fats, magnesium, and fiber.
  • Fat-free Milk Products.  Readily known for its rich sources of calcium, milk comes fortified with needed vitamin D.

This list isn’t just for those with diabetes. To eat healthier, include these super-foods in your diet for power-packed ways to help you stay healthy.

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/diabetes-superfoods.html

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