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7 Brain-Boosting Recipes That Will Keep Your Mind Young

by
author image Maggie Moon, MS, RDN
Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Los Angeles, and author of "The MIND Diet" (Ulysses Press, 2016). She holds a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Education from Columbia University. Connect with her at maggiemoon.com.

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7 Brain-Boosting Recipes That Will Keep Your Mind Young
What you eat can save your brain from years of cognitive aging and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

It’s never too early in life to nurture your brain. In fact, cognitive decline can actually start in early adulthood — a time when most of us assume we’re golden. What you choose to eat can save your brain from years of cognitive aging and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

New research based on data from thousands of adults suggests that the Mediterranean-DASH hybrid diet known as the MIND diet is a simple, whole-food approach to doing just that. Better yet, the MIND diet is even simpler than its component diets because it requires less fish than the Mediterranean diet, less dairy than the DASH diet and less fruit than either one. Overall, it has fewer required servings of grains, vegetables, fruits and fish, no emphasis on dairy and no limits on total fat to worry about. Eating for optimal brain health is easier than you think — no special supplements required. Unless popping a handful of blueberries counts.

1. Creamy Berry Smoothie
This creamy berry smoothie features a surprising secret ingredient. Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

1 CREAMY BERRY SMOOTHIE

You would never guess that this luxuriously silky smoothie is totally vegan. But what is its creamy secret ingredient, you ask? Soft tofu, which is a convenient source of protein, especially if you’re adhering to a plant-based diet. Soft tofu is the perfect stealthy ingredient to add to smoothies, soups, dips and puddings because it has a neutral flavor and it adds a rich and creamy texture. It also qualifies as a serving of beans, so it fits into the MIND diet recommendation to have at least four servings of beans per week. A study of more than 2,000 Swedish adults age 60 years and older showed that healthy diets that include beans provide neuroprotection. Be sure to look for soft tofu set with calcium if you’d like an extra calcium boost. (MIND foods featured in this recipe: berries, nuts, beans)

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Creamy Berry Smoothie

2. Broiled Heirloom Tomato and Rosemary Frittata
New research suggests that eating eggs can improve your cognitive performance. Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

2 BROILED HEIRLOOM TOMATO AND ROSEMARY FRITTATA

This one-pan egg dish is simple yet impressive. The onions and tomatoes spend just enough time sauteing to draw out their earthy flavor. What’s more, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that eating eggs can improve cognitive performance. The researchers, who conducted more than 22 years of research on 2,500 older Finnish men, noted improvements in verbal fluency and functioning in the frontal lobe, which is an area of the brain that helps with problem solving, memory, language and more. This is truly egg-cellent news for omelet lovers everywhere. (MIND foods featured in this recipe: vegetables, olive oil)

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Broiled Heirloom Tomato and Rosemary Frittata

3. Strawberry and Baby Arugula Salad
Folate — a nutrient found in most dark leafy greens — has been associated with improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of dementia. Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

3 STRAWBERRY AND BABY ARUGULA SALAD

Preserving your youth isn’t just about keeping your skin and body tight — it’s about keeping your brain young too. Leafy greens and berries are both staples of the MIND diet because they have been shown to slow cognitive decline. The nutrient folate — found in most dark leafy greens — has been associated with improved cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia in population studies. If you prefer heartier baby kale to delicate arugula, go ahead and make the swap because kale is also a great source of folate. (MIND foods featured in this recipe: leafy greens, berries, olive oil)

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Strawberry and Baby Arugula Salad

4. Warm Rosemary Pistachios
Nuts are packed with vitamin E, which protects the brain. Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

4 WARM ROSEMARY PISTACHIOS

Nuts are tiny powerhouses packed with vital nutrients, including vitamin E, which protects the brain. It’s no wonder the MIND diet recommends eating nuts no less than five times a week. A 2013 randomized clinical trial in Spain called PREDIMED-NAVARRA showed that following a Mediterranean diet with either extra nuts or olive oil resulted in higher cognitive scores compared to low-fat diets. Before you dig into this delicious snack, take care when handling and ingesting the warmed pistachios: They can get very hot! Allow them to cool just a bit before enjoying. (MIND foods featured in this recipe: nuts, olive oil)

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Warm Rosemary Pistachios

5. Beet Chips With Lemon Zest
What’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

5 BEET CHIPS WITH LEMON ZEST

Like with most diets, you’re not going to get out of eating your veggies here. Fortunately, you can turn your vegetables into a colorful snack by making veggie chips. Beets are naturally packed with nitrates that your body converts to nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow and blood pressure — and what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. Ralph Sacco, M.D., chief of neurology at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, tells the American Stroke Association that new studies show that risk factors that can lead to heart disease and stroke “also contribute to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and cognitive dysfunction.” For this recipe, keep a regular watch on the chips after the first 10 minutes to avoid burning. Pro tip: Zesting a lemon and letting the zest rest encourages curling, which can make for a gorgeous garnish. (MIND foods featured in this recipe: vegetables, olive oil)

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Beet Chips With Lemon Zest

6. Chia Pudding
Berries are rich in flavonoids, especially anthocyanidins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions. Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

6 CHIA PUDDING

Who’d have thought that you could have your favorite dessert for breakfast? Well, this deliciously sweet chia pudding is healthy enough to eat any time of day. Berries are the only fruit included in the MIND diet, and they’ve shown promise for having both short- and long-term cognitive benefits. This may be because they are high in flavonoids, especially anthocyanidins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions. A large study found that total flavonoids, including anthocyanidins, can slow down the cognitive aging process by an average of up to two-and-a-half years and that berries were especially potent. (MIND foods featured in this recipe: nuts, beans, berries)

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Chia Pudding

7. White Bean and Tomato Toast
Whole grains have been proven to boost brain function. Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

7 WHITE BEAN AND TOMATO TOAST

This quick, vegan breakfast is the perfect way to give your brain a boost in the morning. In a 2015 study, elementary school students scored higher in all areas of testing after eating breakfast. But those who ate more whole grains had significantly higher scores in reading comprehension, verbal fluency and math. So you really can’t go wrong with this healthy whole-grain toast. If you end up with some leftover white bean spread, you can refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to five days. Then you can use it to make this recipe again, or simply enjoy it as an easy snack with strips of carrots, celery, cucumbers or bell peppers. (MIND foods featured in this recipe: whole grains, beans, olive oil)

Recipe & Nutritional Info: White Bean and Tomato Toast

What Do YOU Think?
What Do YOU Think? Photo Credit: Jenna Butler/LIVESTRONG.COM

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Will you be making any of these recipes, or were you already in the know? What do you do to keep your brain young? Share in the comments section!

Read more: The 6 Best Granolas and 4 to Avoid

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