You might not realize how big of a role blood flow plays when it comes to brain health — we certainly didn’t, until we started thumbing through the pages of the new Memory Rescue by brain health pioneer, Dr. Daniel Amen.
According to Dr. Amen, the most crucial thing we can do to maintain and improve brain health over time is to increase blood flow to the area through regular exercise and targeted nutrition. Keeping our blood flowing throughout the day is so important for our cognitive longevity that its the first topic addressed in Amen Clinics new BRIGHT MINDS Program (“B” is for blood flow), which identifies and treats the eleven top risk-factors for aged-related brain conditions.
Straight from the pages of Memory Rescue, we’re sharing Dr. Amen’s top recommendations for blood flow-boosting foods to consume and those to avoid…
Foods to Choose SPICES: cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander and cardamom, cinnamon, rosemary and bergamot (cholesterol-lowering properties).
ARGININE-RICH FOODS: to boost nitric oxide and blood flow eat more beets, pork, turkey, chicken, beef, salmon, halibut, trout, steel-cut oats, clams, watermelon (l-citrulline that boosts arginine), pistachios, walnuts, seeds, kale, spinach, celery, cabbage and radishes. Drinking nitrate-rich beet juice has been found to lower blood pressure, increase stamina during exercise and, in older people, boost blood flow to the brain.
VITAMIN B6, B12 AND FOLATE-RICH FOODS: leafy greens, cabbage, bok choy, bell peppers, cauliflower, lentils, asparagus, garbanzo beans, spinach, broccoli, parsley, salmon, sardines, lamb, tuna, beef and eggs.
VITAMIN E-RICH FOODS: these widen blood vessels and decrease clotting. Green leafy vegetables are major sources of vitamin E, in addition to almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds.
MAGNESIUM-RICH FOODS: these relax blood vessels. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, Swiss chard, sesame seeds, beet greens, summer squash, quinoa, black beans and cashews.
POTASSIUM-RICH FOODS: these help control blood pressure: beet greens, Swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, cantaloupe, tomatoes, salmon, banana, onions, green peas, sweet potato, avocado and lentils.
FIBER-RICH FOODS: these have been shown to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels
MACA reduces blood pressure.
VITAMIN C-RICH FOODS: boosts immunity.
OMEGA-3-RICH FOODS: reduces inflammation.
Foods to Lose
CAFFEINE: while that daily morning espresso might seem like a life-saver at 7am, caffeine has been shown to constrict blood flow to the brain so moderation is key.
SUGARY SODAS: learn more about what they do in your health here. If you’re still lusting for bubbles, try probiotic-rich water kefir instead.
BAKED GOODS: too much can lead to clogged arteries, hypertension and heart failure. If you quit, try making healthier versions of your fave recipes by eliminating dairy, grains and/or refined sugar.FRENCH FRIES: fries and other foods fried in vegetable oils can cause inflammation and sticky arteries. These baked sweet potato fries are a cleaner and more nutritious option.
TRANS FATS: just say no to margarine and powdered coffee creamers.
ALCOHOL: No more than a moderate amount of alcohol; I recommend no more than two to four normal glasses a week.
Learn more about brain health from Dr. Amen here.
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