According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three senior citizens will die from some form of dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and according to USA Today, cases of Alzheimer’s disease will triple by the year 2050.

You may be wondering what you can feed your brain in order to avoid this disease. Most nutritionists have been instructing people to follow a Mediterranean diet for quite some time instead of a conventional American Pyramid diet. It turns out that some of the top foods that help with brain health also happen to be some of the top foods listed in the Mediterranean Food Pyramid. Click here for a picture of the pyramid.

So which foods in particular are best for boosting the health of the brain, as well as preventing degenerative diseases? Well it seems that the top foods to consume are high in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Some of the healthiest fruits to eat are avocados, due to their high levels of monounsaturated fats as well as vitamin K and folate. These key components help prevent blood clots in the brain, thereby preventing strokes, as well as helping with concentration and memory. Another top fruit to consume is blueberries. This fruit contains gallic acid, which has been shown to both help protect brains from degeneration due to stress and, as a long-term result, help reduce the risk of dementia.  The last fruit we will mention is the not-so-popular beet, which is chock-full of natural nitrates that cause blood flow to the brain, helping the brain heal itself.

The most important chemical that seems to play a large role in brain health is Choline.  It is similar to B-vitamins, but hasn’t yet been added to the B-Complex family.  This chemical is needed to form cell membranes, and when a pregnant woman does not have enough in her system, infants are shown to have less brain development and they have poorer memories. So which foods contain the most Choline? Well, broccoli, cauliflower, and egg yolks seem to have the highest amounts.

There are also some delicious proteins you can consume that will benefit your brain, and those are wild-caught salmon, crab meat and grass-fed beef. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids and, in particular, DHA, which promotes brain healing and age-related reversal of damage. Crab meat and beef contain vitamin B. This vitamin helps the brain function and hinders brain shrinkage, which can occur if levels are extremely low. Recent studies have also shown that vitamin E, ingested at higher levels as we age, can contribute to less mental decline. High levels of vitamin E can be found in pretty much all nuts and seeds.

While you are cooking these brain-healthy foods, make sure to use some extra virgin olive oil (as well as coconut oil) for added nutritional benefits. EVOO has polyphenols that help improve memory as well as fight against ADDLs, which are toxic proteins that induce Alzheimer’s. Yummy coconut oil improves memory as well as other numerous whole-body health benefits. While you’re at it, go ahead and sprinkle in some rosemary herb and turmeric. Rosemary herb contains carnosic acid, which actually protects the brain from neurodegeneration by fighting off free radicals. Turmeric improves brain oxygen levels and inhibits beta amyloids from destroying the brain, thereby preventing Alzheimer’s disease. You can eat well, enjoy your food, and nourish your brain all at the same time. Last, but certainly not least, enjoy some dessert! Dark chocolate helps lower blood pressure, while at the same time improving blood flow to the brain as well as the heart. Now, do make sure to select healthy chocolates (no milk or white varieties) and try to opt for those listed at 70% or higher cacao content. Bon Appetit!