Blueberries are loaded with polyphenols and flavonoids. Long-term consumption of blueberry polyphenols and flavonoids has been shown to improve and even reverse cognitive decline in animal studies. The cognitive enhancement provided by blueberries is closely related to higher brain production of glutathione (our master antioxidant) and the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase activity, which prevents excessive breakdown of acetylcholine. In the brain, acetylcholine functions as a neurotransmitter and is important to attention, memory and motivation.
Broccoli sprouts are one of the richest sources of sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane activates a genetic pathway in our cells called Nrf2. This pathway controls over 200 other genes that carry out anti-inflammatory and anti-antioxidant processes and the ability to inactivate other harmful compounds that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Excess inflammation and toxic load have been linked to cognitive decline.
Top your salad with broccoli sprouts or add the sprouts to a veggie wrap!
For optimal effects, consume ¼ cup of broccoli sprouts 5 times per week.
Rich in the Omega 3 fatty acids which decrease systemic inflammation and help keep our cell membranes fluid. This fluidity allows all of our cells to communicate better, including our neurons! We do not want rigid cell membranes!
Purslane is an edible weed with a juicy, lemony flavor. You will find it at farmers markets in the summer. I recently learned at a conference on the topic of neuro-inflammation that it is very high in Alpha Linoleic Acid (an Omega 3 fatty acid). In fact, 100 grams of fresh leaves contains 300-400 mg omega 3’s! It is also very high in melatonin, a hormone that’s great for regulating sleep.
Pull the leaves off the larger stems and toss them with lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Pretty simple! Or combine with other greens like kale!
Flavanols in cocoa have been studied for many years. They have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage. And cocoa is such a nice treat too. Just make sure that you are not consuming the cocoa with a lot of sugar!
Although technically a herb, I include rosemary on this list because it is so good paired with food! Among the most important group of compounds isolated from the plant are the phenolic diterpenes that account for most of the antioxidant and many pharmacological activities of the plant. Rosemary diterpenes have been shown in recent years to inhibit neuronal cell death induced by a variety of agents.
Add rosemary liberally to your foods. It pairs especially well with roasted chicken and vegetables!