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Dash of Class: Try these brain boosters

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Food column by Nora Sweat

By Nora Sweat

I know you have heard the phrase “brain food” and you might have wondered if it really is true. It is. As I age, my short-term memory is not as good as I would like it to be, so that interests me. Much research shows brain food wards off dementia and even shows a decline in Alzheimer’s disease.

Some foods that are highly effective in improving memory, mood, concentration and overall clarity include the following, according to a health blog by Directory Journal.

Blueberries most notably have been shown to improve memory function and research has found they can reverse age-related declines in motor function, balance and coordination. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, too.

Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, salmon helps the brain develop tissue for increasing brain power. This food also helps fight Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive disorders.

Flax seeds are rich in ALA, a healthy fat that aids the cerebral cortex functions.

Regular coffee drinking has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other mental disorders. Caffeine in moderation is good for the brain and coffee contains antioxidants.

Mixed nuts — from walnuts rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to almonds containing beneficial neurotransmitters — help with a range of health issues including insomnia, mental clarity and memory.

Avocado contains a healthy fat that promotes blood flow. This food also has been shown to reduce blood pressure.  

Egg yolks are crammed with choline, a nutrient essential to improving memory.

Whole grains improve circulation and are a source of essential fibers, vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Chocolate has been shown to keep cognitive ability sharp, too. Antioxidant-rich dark improves focus and concentration while milk chocolate improves reaction time and memory.

Broccoli has been shown to improve memory function and slow the aging process.

Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a menu that would fit all that in? Try this: Broiled or baked salmon, steamed broccoli, green salad with flax seeds, blueberries and walnuts, whole grain roll, coffee and dark chocolate mousse.

But for practical reasons, you would not want to eat that menu for all meals. It would become boring.

This week and next I will have recipes that will help you consume some of the very best “brain foods.”

I am going to give you some suggested recipes and cooking techniques to make your menu planning even healthier.

Nora Sweat, author of ”Mama and Me,”is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.comor by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Blueberry Walnut Salad

  • Mixed salad greens
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
  • ¼ cupcrumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • Flax seeds

In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with remaining ingredients except feta. Top with feta cheese to serve.

Source: www.allrecipes.com

Romaine Salad with Avocado and Walnuts

  • Romaine lettuce hearts
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 avocado

Tear the romaine hearts the way you desire. Cut the avocado half into little chunky pieces. Top with the Feta cheese and the walnuts. This salad is great with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Source: www.food.com

Mesclun Salad with Blueberries and Avocado

  • 2 (5-ounce) bags gourmet mixed salad greens with herbs
  • 2 ripe avocados, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup walnut halves, toasted
  • 3/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Toss salad greens, avocado, walnuts and blueberries in a serving bowl. Lightly dress salad with desired amount of vinaigrette; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with pepper; toss again before serving. Note: Made with mixed baby greens.

Source: Christmas with Southern Living 2004