Food for Alzheimer’s Prevention
Plant-based diets play an instrumental role in preventing cognitive decline. Specifically, a diet rich in whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, olive oil and other unsaturated fats has been shown to slow down cognitive decline and prevent other chronic diseases. This article will review what the evidence says in regard to plant-based diets and Alzheimer’s disease prevention, including the link between vitamin E and vitamin B12.
The FINGER study looked at risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease such as alcohol misuse, high blood pressure, obesity, diet, smoking, diabetes, and lack of exercise amongst other factors.
This study found that a diet intervention with individual consults and group education was amongst the key factors in reducing cognitive decline.
The FINGER study found this diet worked well for reducing cognitive decline:
|Dietary Component||Amount Recommended Per|
|Calories from protein||10-20%Day|
|Calories from fat (total):|
Saturated and trans fat
Less than 10%
|Salt||Less than 5 grams (2 teaspoons)|
|Calories from alcohol||Less than 5%|
|Omega 3 fats||2.5-3 grams|
|Calories from carbohydrates (total)|
Less than 10%
The MIND Diet and Foods for Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
The MIND diet which stands for the Mediterranean-Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay includes a combination of plant-based foods and small amounts of lean meats and dairy.
- Beans, choose a variety;
- Berries and other dark-skinned fruits because of their antioxidants such as strawberries, blueberries, oranges, raspberries, blackberries, and plums;
- Dark leafy greens including kale and spinach;
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussel sprouts;
- Whole grains, choose a variety;
- Extra virgin olive oil; and
- Nuts and seeds that are rich in omega 3 fats including ground flax, chia seeds, and walnuts, but choose a variety here too for their monounsaturated fat content!
What’s more, is that chocolate and coffee may help slow down cognitive decline because of their caffeine and antioxidant content!
Anyone for spicy food? Spices like cinnamon and turmeric may have benefits beyond their taste and color. Cinnamon has been shown to be beneficial in protecting all cells in the body, including brain cells, because of its high antioxidant content.
Alzheimer’s is diagnosed by a plaque-like build up in the brain from a protein called beta-amyloid. This build-up, in turn, causes inflammation in the brain. Turmeric, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, may slow down or prevent that protein build-up and support brain health.
Vitamin E-rich Plant-based Foods for Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
Vitamin E is found in a variety of plant-based foods. Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant to scavenge free radicals – molecules in the body that cause damage. A study showed that vitamin E may slow down functional decline in people living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Vegetables and fruits: spinach, dandelion greens, swiss chard, turnip greens, red pepper, avocado.
Grains: wheat germ
Nuts and Seeds: almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, brazil nuts, almond butter
Vitamin B12-rich Plant-based Foods for Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
Vitamin B12 is important for the metabolism of DNA and protein synthesis. A deficiency in vitamin B12 is associated with elevated homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid, which in high levels is an identified risk factor for dementia. Deficiencies of B12 increase with age particularly if you are 50 years of age and older, so be sure to get enough vitamin B12 in your diet for Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products; however, rich plant-based sources of vitamin B12 include fortified almond or rice beverage, fortified soy or oat beverage, nutritional yeast, and soy-based meat substitutes that are fortified with vitamin B12.
In summary, this article reviewed what the evidence says in regard to plant-based diets and Alzheimer’s disease prevention, including the link between vitamin E and vitamin B12. Still concerned about Alzheimer’s disease risk? Speak with your doctor or dietitian and they can come up with a health and diet plan that works best for you!
What plant-based foods do you include in your diet for your brain health? Comment below!
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