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Q&A: Brain-Healthy Diet

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Q: Is there really such a thing as a brain-healthy diet?

A: Very definitely! And it’s really quite easy. First, let’s start with the chocolate. Have one piece of expensive dark chocolate every day. Of course, you must be reasonable about this. A small piece, not something the size of a Cinnabon.

Then (you knew this was coming) the inevitable five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Select those richest in antioxidants and carotenes: dark green leafy vegetables; bright carrots and squash; richly colored fruit like blueberries and apples. Eat a wide range of the foods called produce, and eat mostly those foods.

At the same time, reduce your saturated fat intake: use meat and poultry as a side dish or garnish. Your good animal protein source is fish, because it contains the omega-3 fatty acids that are especially required for brain health. If you can’t handle fish, take omega-3 supplements twice a day.

Enjoy black or green tea as a daily beverage (high in antioxidants). Prepare foods with extra virgin olive oil, ideally, or canola oil.

Reduce your intake of high-glycemic foods. These are the ones that convert quickly to sugar (glucose). Thus, you’ll phase out refined white-flour breads and processed foods wherever and whenever you can. Replace these with whole-grain foods as well as beans and other legumes.

Eliminate all sources of high fructose corn syrup (this requires label reading). Limit alcohol to one or two drinks a day.

Finally, tobacco smoke is a killer of brain cells. The more you smoke, the less you may realize that cigarettes are turning your brain to mush.

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