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Boost your memory with food, drink

Springboarding from last week’s Road to Fitness column, on how lifestyle choices can affect memory and brain function, today I’ll look at how what we eat and drink can help to boost memory.

“The Alzheimer’s Diet,” written by Harvard-trained neurologist Richard S Isaacson, M.D. and Dr Christopher Ochner, reveals their list of top 10 great memory foods: fish, berries, seeds/nuts, green leafy vegetables, cocoa powder, legumes, grape juice (no sugar added), curry, black or green tea, and dark skinned fruits.

Their top 10 list of poor-memory foods included white bread, candy, sugary beverages of all kinds, cakes/muffins, most fried foods, foods sauteed in high-fat vegetable or corn oil, most dried foods/processed foods, bacon, hot dogs and buttered popcorn. For more information, go online to

Harvard Medical School conducted a 25-year study of 13,000 women that showed that those who ate relatively high amounts of vegetables had less age-related decline in memory. The most beneficial effect came from cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower and leafy green vegetables including Swiss chard, kale, spinach, collard and mustard greens.

Other helpful memory sustainers, according to relevant studies:

Folic acid (also known as folate) seems to have a direct effect on memory, according to studies including one conducted at Tufts University in Boston that followed about 320 men for three years. Sources of folic acid include fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans, spinach, green peas, artichokes, broccoli, wheat germ, beets and oranges.

Anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, are the pigments responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors of many fruits and vegetables. Look for fruits and vegetables with deep color such as red onion, beets and cabbage, berries, grapes, cherries, eggplant, plums, rhubarb. Quercetin is another type of flavonoid, found in citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage, and tea, as well as red wine.

Omega 3 fatty acids, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago that followed more than 3,000 men and women for six years to see how diet affected memory. People who ate fish at least once a week had a 10 percent slower decline compared with those who did not eat fish, a difference that gave them the memory and thinking ability of a person three years younger.

Magnesium. A form of magnesium called magnesium L-threonate can help memory and cognitive function.

Cocoa flavanols have widely varying positive effects on human health. Regular cocoa flavanol consumption was associated with increased neural efficiency in spatial working memory function in a study with 63 middle-aged subjects.

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