Senior Health

11/20/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

You have probably heard it hundreds of times: The foods you eat will play a significant role in keeping your body healthy and working correctly. Your brain is no exception, and as the control center of your entire system, it deserves nothing but the best. After all, it is responsible for keeping your heart pumping and your lungs breathing. Without it, you can’t move, feel, or think.   

While there isn’t one specific food that prevents cognitive decline, following a healthy diet made up of plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains will help to keep your brain sharp as you age. Nutritionists recommend getting much of your protein from plants and fish and cutting back on saturated fats.

Research has indicated that the foods that guard your heart and blood vessels are the same ones that protect your brain’s functions. Here are ten of those foods that protect brain function, and that should be incorporated into an overall healthy lifestyle.

Green, Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are one of the foods that protect brain function!

Kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Studies in older adults have connected vitamin K intake to improved memory. And one cup of broccoli delivers 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of this fat-soluble vitamin.

Fatty Fish 

Fatty fish often top the list of brain foods. Salmon, trout, canned light tuna, and sardines are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which your brain uses to build brain and nerve cells. Studies have shown Omega 3s could help slow age-related mental decline and defend against Alzheimer’s disease.


Blueberries contain flavonoids, the natural plant pigments that can help improve memory. One Harvard study from 2012 found that women who ate two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years. Blueberries provide plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, which could prevent brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases.


Your morning cup of coffee or tea could be giving you more than just a short-term jolt of caffeine. In a 2014 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, the participants with higher caffeine consumption scored better on mental function tests. Another study showed that participants who drank one large coffee in the morning or smaller amounts throughout the day were more successful at tasks that required concentration.


While all types of nuts are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats, walnuts might also improve memory. A 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores. Walnuts are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to help lower blood pressure and protect the arteries, both of which are beneficial for the heart and brain.


Eggs are a good source of choline, folate, and vitamins B6 and B12, all of which are linked to improved brain function. Two studies have connected higher intakes of choline to better memory and mental function. Older adults with dementia usually have a folate deficiency, and adding it to the diet or through supplements can help minimize age-related cognitive decline. The B vitamins in eggs may also help slow the progression of mental decline.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is one of the foods that protect brain function!

Dark chocolate provides brain-boosting compounds, such as caffeine, flavonoids, and antioxidants. The flavonoids in chocolate may enhance memory and help slow down age-related mental decline. Studies have also revealed that eating chocolate can result in increased positive feelings.


Long recognized as a source of healthy unsaturated fat, avocados support the brain by reducing blood pressure, which has been associated with mental decline. So, by helping to lower blood pressure, avocados may also decrease the risk of cognitive decline.

Green Tea

Caffeine is just one of the components in green tea that make it a brain-boosting beverage, and overall one of the foods that protect brain function. It also has L-theanine, an amino acid that helps reduce anxiety and leads to feelings of relaxation without being tired. Green tea contains polyphenols and antioxidants that could protect the brain from decline and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


Turmeric is one of the foods that protect brain function!

Turmeric is a relatively new kid on the brain-boosting block.  Found in curry powder, the spice contains curcumin, an ingredient that may improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s. It may also boost serotonin and dopamine, both of which will enhance mood and help ease depression.

These ten foods that protect brain function – and others similar to them – can set you on the path to a healthy brain and a healthy body!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff