The foods we eat are our number one weapon in disease prevention and influence how well we age both physically and mentally. The risk of developing age related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's may be reduced by diets that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Once again the plant based Mediterranean diet is a great example of a pattern of eating associated with a decreased risk of many chronic illnesses including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. It is important to remember that there is no one super food that can accomplish this. The benefits come from the contributions of a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seafood rich in anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain. Animal studies suggest that compounds found in green tea, blueberries, spinach, and strawberries are helpful in slowing age related declines in brain function and behavior. In addition, essential fats, particularly DHA, the omega - 3 fatty acid obtained either through a high grade fish oil supplement or cold water wild salmon, have been found to be protective against the formation of the amyloid plaque associated with Alzheimer's disease. So grab a plate and enjoy a beautiful grilled wild salmon filet served up with a gorgeous spinach salad, mixed berries and walnuts, dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil. Bon Appétit!
Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is Caring.com senior food and nutrition editor and the director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine.