Following up with my recent blog article about the five best habits for brain health, let’s talk brain food. Since scientists know that about 20 percent of everything we eat goes to the brain, a healthy diet ideally includes a variety of foods that specifically work to support brain health. I’ve talked about some of these foods before—SMASH fish, mussels, oysters, cod, and wild salmon are wonderful sources of brain food, as they contain not only an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids but also minerals like zinc, selenium, and magnesium—all which provide the foundation for cell activity, brain tissue, and the synthesis of neurotransmitters that directly affect your mood. Seafood can be a good choice too, as it provides vitamin B12, selenium, iron, zinc, and protein. But there’s more—there are two specific foods that have shown much promise in promoting brain health and slowing cognitive decline, and both can be found in my Macadamia Masterpiece—walnuts and MCT oil.
Studies have suggested walnuts can decrease the risk or progression of brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and even stroke and depression, as well decrease risk and progression for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Another study explored the way that adding walnuts to your diet helps protect against age-related cognitive decline, citing the polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids that are abundant in walnuts, which counteract the oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to cognitive decline.
Then there’s MCT oil—critical for brain health, but found in few foods, mainly coconut oil and full-fat dairy products. Studies have linked coconut oil consumption with improved cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s and one woman, Dr. Newport, wrote a book called Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?, to share her experience with using coconut oil to help someone who had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. That someone was her husband, and Dr. Newport explains in her book why she believes her husband’s coconut oil consumption actually slowed down the progression of his disease.
Dr. Newport is now an outspoken advocate for the use of coconut oil for a wide-range of neurological disorders, and she’s hardly alone in her interest in this topic—additional studies have found coconut oil reduces the beta-amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s and that high-fat diets, ketone bodies, and MCTs all offer neuroprotective benefits for various neurological diseases (including all forms of dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, and traumatic brain injuries). Research has also confirmed that high-fat diets (specifically ones that include the MCTs found in coconut oil) can delay brain aging by providing extra fuel to repair brain cell damage, and one study featuring participants with mild cognitive impairment found that within only 90 minutes of a single dose of MCT oil, they experienced significant improvement in memory recall.
Want to learn more about selecting the most-nutrient dense, healthy, clean food for everything from brain health to digestive health? Read my blog article, My New Diet, and check out the Carnivore Scores Food Chart I co-created to help you design the healthiest diet possible. To view and download the chart for your own personal use, click here.