5 healthiest plant based diets for brain health as you age according to new research. A plant-based diet is linked to better cardiovascular health, a decreased risk of chronic disease and inflammation, and longer life.
We now know that a diet rich in particular plant products decreases the incidence of cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly, due to a recent study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
The Biomarkers and Nutritional Food Metabolomics Research Group of the University of Barcelona’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences, as well as the CIBER on Frailty and Healthy Aging, collaborated on the study (CIBERFES).
The authors of the study claim that metabolites generated from polyphenol-rich foods (such as apples, green tea, blueberries, oranges, and pomegranates), chocolate, coffee, mushrooms, and red wine are protective against cognitive decline in the elderly.
Over the course of 12 years, 842 adults over the age of 65 in the Bordeaux and Dijon areas of France took part in the study.
“Polyphenols and other bioactive substances found in fruits, vegetables, and plant-based meals may help minimize the risk of cognitive deterioration associated with aging,” says the study.
Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences and head of the UB’s Biomarkers and Nutritional Metabolomics of Food Research Group, is the study’s principal researcher.
While the link between plant-based diets and brain health and cognitive performance isn’t exactly new, the findings from this study are notable since it used a more dependable method of evaluation.
“This study employed metabolomics as a measuring technique, which is uncommon among cognitive decline research,” says Aimee Nicotera, MS, RD, a health coach, and personal trainer.
“Rather of relying on food diaries or other [less scientific] methods of assessing nutritional intake, small molecule metabolic products from blood serum were identified as indicators and then analyzed,” says the study.
The study had a high sample size and was constructed utilizing two nested case-controlled sample sets, according to Nicotera.
“Rather of just tracking a group of people and collecting data, researchers use healthy controls in each case.” For diagnostic research, this strategy is regarded valid and efficient.”
However, Nicotera points out that while coffee metabolites were investigated, excessive levels of caffeine were not.
“We should be wary about reaching to extremes when using science.” Furthermore, although alcohol metabolites were linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline, “excess alcohol use was linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline,” she adds.
It’s also crucial to remember that stress, environmental variables, heredity, and the presence of other disorders may all contribute to cognitive impairment, according to Nicotera.
“While eating more of the healthy advised components and less of the harmful reported components may help, they do not ensure 100% protection of cognitive deterioration,” she notes.
But what makes the specific plant-based diets for brain health that the study picked out so special?
Let’s look at it more closely.
5 healthiest plant based diets for brain health
“Coffee has been shown to improve cognition and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” explains Feit.
“This was effectively demonstrated and discussed in a Harvard research.” However, Nicotera warns that the recommended daily coffee intake is three to five cups with a maximum caffeine content of 400 mg.
The caffeine content in an eight-ounce cup of coffee is roughly 100 mg.
“Cocoa contains antioxidants that protect cells from harm,” explains Jamie Feit, MS, RD, a nutrition expert at Testing.com.
It’s worth noting, though, that the study focused on cocoa, not chocolate. “Chocolate has more sugar and calories than pure cacao, so use it in morning oats or a smoothie, or mix it up with avocado and enjoy as a mousse,” Nicotera suggests.
“Mushrooms are known to help improve the immune system by reducing inflammation and increasing vitamin D,” explains Feit.
“Each species of mushroom has distinct defensive effects, therefore it’s advisable to eat a variety of mushrooms.”
Polyphenols are plant-based chemicals that exist naturally. They contain a lot of antioxidants and have a lot of health advantages.
“Research suggests that polyphenol-rich foods should be consumed in excess of 650 mg per day. “1000 mg of polyphenols each day, for example, is equal to 12 cups of cauliflower, a cup and a half of blueberries, two and a quarter cups of strawberries, or five and a half cups of broccoli,” Nicotera explains.
According to Nicotera, the highest resveratrol content wines are Malbec, Petite Sirah, St. Laurent, and Pinot Noir.
“For ladies, one glass of wine per day is suggested, while for males, two glasses per day.”
This advice is based on the idea that, while wine has certain health advantages, drinking too much of it might be harmful.
The recommended dose of supplemental resveratrol is debatable, especially given its low absorption, and cannot be directly compared to glasses of wine.”
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