Have you noticed that your memory isn’t what it used to be? It’s true that as we age, our brains become less efficient at forming memories and learning new things, but you can improve your chances of maintaining good brain health with the proper diet and lifestyle choices. In addition to eating a healthy, balanced diet, some foods support memory as you age. These nutritious foods are well-known for their ability to keep your mind sharp and focused throughout the day, reducing the risk of memory loss later in life. Whether or not you have any memory issues at present, making these foods part of your regular diet can help prevent future problems that will inevitably come with aging in the best way possible.
Here are the best great foods that can give you the best possible memory function at any age.
Eating fatty fish—such as mackerel, tuna, and salmon—is thought to help increase memory and brainpower. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA). DHA promotes healthy brain function, lowers the risk for dementia, and enhances the learning ability of older adults. What’s more, studies show that giving older adults DHA supplements for three months improves their memory by 20%.
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds are among some of your best choices for helping protect memory. They’re rich in antioxidants that may help prevent some of that memory loss. Additionally, nuts and seeds are a great source of tryptophan—an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin and melatonin—which is also linked to memory performance. Good food sources include:
- Almonds (whole or sliced)
- Peanuts (shells removed)
- Pistachios (unsalted)
- Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Sesame seeds (toasted)
As a side note: Shellfish and cold-water fish such as salmon also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows can be important in warding off cognitive decline.
Chocolate isn’t just delicious—it is suitable for your memory too. In a study published in 2013, older adults who ate one ounce of dark chocolate every day for eight weeks showed improvements in cognitive function and increased blood flow to areas of their brains associated with memory and thinking. The verdict: Keep eating that chocolate! (But go for quality chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids and consume it in moderation.)
Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are particularly beneficial for improving memory function in older adults. The high amount of vitamin C in these fruits may help boost brain health by supporting overall mental clarity.
Salmon is one of many foods with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which support optimal brain development.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale may reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other memory-related conditions by protecting your neurons from oxidative stress.
In addition to being packed with vitamins and nutrients, eggs are a good source of choline. Choline helps build brain cells and prevents them from breaking down. Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin—antioxidants that protect neurons. These antioxidants help your eyesight, but they also prevent macular degeneration and other diseases that can impair memory and cognitive function.
Strawberries are packed with antioxidants that help support a healthy memory. A 2010 study at Tufts University found that women who consumed strawberries exhibited sharper cognitive function than those who did not.