By Kevin Woo
There’s an old saying, “You are what you eat.” Dr. Neal Barnard and his family grew up eating typical Midwestern fare – meat-and-potatoes. He says that not so coincidentally many members of his family got Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia at a young age.
Barnard recently released a book, Power Foods for the Brain.” In it he says that diets high in saturated fats can be linked to cognitive decline.
“Besides fats, researchers also (see) a link between a high intake of iron (which also has been linked with heart disease) and copper as contributing factors to cognitive decline,” he said in an interview with Cleveland Live.
Barnard says some foods are considered “brain protectors.” These foods include:
• Vitamin E-rich foods, such as almonds, cooked spinach and dried apricots.
• A diet rich in such foods as beans and chickpeas; blueberries and grapes; green leafy vegetables; and sweet potatoes.
• Vitamin B-fortified foods such as soy milk or nutritional yeast.
Foods that are a threat to the brain include:
• Saturated fats, mostly found in animal protein.
• Trans fats.
• Excess iron, copper and aluminum – perhaps ingested through multi-vitamins (read the label to find those that don’t contain these minerals), or by cooking with cast iron or aluminum pans. He suggests using stainless steel pots and pans for cooking.
Barnard concludes by saying people should increase their amount of exercise, get enough sleep and stimulate the brain by reading, doing puzzles or taking classes.