Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of cognitive decline, such as memory loss and confusion, impact one in nine U.S. adults. An estimated 10.8 percent of people between 45 and 64 experience this issue. However, it’s more common in senior adults, affecting 11.7 percent of the 65+ population. Cognitive decline can be a precursor to conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s, so it’s important to care for your brain health as you or your loved one age.
Since the brain uses around 20 percent of the body’s caloric intake, it needs the right nutrients to be sharp and healthy, explains Dr. Marcus Raichle. This starts with your diet, as certain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other ingredients can enhance brain function. Below is a list of superfoods for seniors—along with quick, easy, delicious recipes—that will help your brain remain active in the “golden years” of life.
Vegetables such as kale, spinach, lettuce, and collards can slow the rate of cognitive decline more than other types of vegetables, according to research from the American Academy of Neurology. That’s because leafy greens contain flavonoids, antioxidants, folate, lutein, beta-carotene, nitrate, and vitamin K—all of which can protect against memory impairment.
Superfood Recipes for Seniors with Leafy Greens
- Sautéed Indian Spinach from Mind Over Munch: Try this zesty side dish that has extra anti-inflammatory benefits from turmeric and ginger.
- Baked Kale Chips from A Spicy Perspective: This wholesome snack is easy to roast in the oven when you’re in the mood for just a nibble.
Nuts or Seeds
Hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and sunflower or flax seeds are rich in vitamin E, and both omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, a study from the Antioxidants Journal. These nutrients strengthen the brain’s neural pathways, which lower the risk of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Parkinson’s and might even help stabilize some forms of mental illness.
Superfood Recipes for Seniors with Nuts or Seeds
- Raw Nut Brownies from A Couple Cooks: This dessert owes its fudge-like texture to walnuts and almonds and its natural sweetness to dates.
- Sunflower Seed Butter from The Healthy Foodie: A homemade spread that’s thick, creamy, and perfect for smearing on your toast in the morning.
Fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines are also excellent omega-3 fatty acid sources, both as fish oil supplements and in their protein form, according to the Nutrients Journal. In fact, these varieties of seafood can reinforce the membrane structure around brain cells, or neurons, to boost memory and executive functions while reducing the effects of brain atrophy.
Superfood Recipes for Seniors with Oily Seafood
- Salmon Stuffed Avocados from Eating Well: A yummy fresh take on lunch or dinner, these stuffed avocados pack a double punch of omega-3 from the fish and avocado.
- Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes from Fuss Free Flavors: This lightened version of a burger patty is just the meal for summer family cookouts.
Barley, oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice or pasta are fortified with essential nutrients like fiber, iron, zinc, antioxidants, and vitamins B and E, which can reduce inflammation that often leads to cognitive decline, reports the Clinical Nutrition Journal. Whole grains have also been found to ease depression, which is another potential dementia symptom.
Superfood Recipes for Seniors with Whole Grains
- Oat Banana Muffins from Insightful Bite: This breakfast treat feels like pure comfort food but is bursting with powerhouse nutrition.
- Superfood Quinoa Salad from Sun Basket: This refreshing, citrusy bowl can also be made with brown rice or barley instead of the quinoa.
Use These Superfoods for Seniors to Bolster Your Brain Health
These superfoods for seniors are just as delicious as they are nutritious—so load your plate with a serving of brain health. Additionally, you can also add some of these power-packed ingredients to your favorite meals for an extra boost for your brain.
At Vineyard, our Chef will creatively prepare healthy, seasonal cuisine, use the best local ingredients, as well as incorporate superfoods for seniors. To learn more, take a look at our sample menu.