Memory Spring Monthly

Fall Fruits and Vegetables that Boost Brain Health

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Winter Squash by Egrodziak

While most of us think of summer for harvesting and consuming healthy fruits and vegetables, fall has it’s own set of fruits and vegetables that help with memory and brain health. Here are a few to consider.
Apples – Even though we can get apples all year long, apples come into season in the fall. Apples contain Quercetin. Quercetin is an antioxidant that is found mainly in the skin. It has proven more effective than vitamin C at protecting brain cells from oxidative damage that triggers neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.  
Arugula – Arugula, also known as rocket and rucola, is a less recognized cruciferous vegetable that provides many of the same benefits as other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. Along with other leafy greens, arugula contains very high nitrate levels (more than 250 mg/100 g). High intakes of dietary nitrate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise and enhance athletic performance. Better use of oxygen allows the body to get more oxygen rich blood to the brain.
Broccoli - Broccoli isn’t just a low-calorie green veggie; it’s a (green!) monster of nutrition. Full of Vitamin B6, protein, Vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium, raw or cooked broccoli is a great stress-relieving food. This food has also been linked to fighting cancer, along with other cruciferous veggies, which shows how incredible is at supporting cellular function.
Cabbage – Cabbage is full of vitamin K and anthocyanins that help with mental function and concentration. These nutrients also prevent nerve damage, improving your defense against Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Red cabbage has the highest amount of these power nutrients.
Celery – Celery is loaded with a plant compound called Luteolin. In 2010, a study came out that linked luteolin with lower rates of age-related memory loss. The reason: Luteolin appears to calm inflammation in the brain, which experts now believe to be primary cause of neurodegeneration. By inhibiting the action of inflammatory cytokines, luteolin seems to prevent a cycle of degenerative changes in the brain. Other good sources of Luteolin include peppers and carrots.
Cranberries - Cranberries are another super food that offer many benefits. Traditionally, cranberries have been used in combatting urinary tract infections; however, they have also been found to be effective at promoting good brain health. Cranberries are very similar to blueberries in that they are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to protect cells against free radicals which impact brain health and speed up aging. In addition, cranberries are particularly effective in reducing the impact of a stroke and in aiding recovery. According to WebMD Medical News, Cranberries contain flavonoids, that help fight atherosclerosis, or what they used to call "hardening of the arteries". Flavonoids help reduce the amount of bad cholesterol clogging the walls of your arteries while increasing the level of good cholesterol in your system. As a result, blood flow is increased to the brain which improves brain performance.
Kale – Kale is a nutrient-dense veggie that contains essential vitamins and minerals that the brain is contingent on to function. Kale contains 684 percent RDA of vitamin K, which is a powerful antioxidant nutrient that protects fat and has long been associated with blood clotting. Vitamin K is needed to make the "specialized fats called sphingolipids that create the structure of our brain cells, and it promotes brain cells being more resilient by influencing gene expression," wrote Dr. Drew Ramsey, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute. Kale also contains manganese which can better help you focus on daily tasks at work and give you a pick-me-up. Perhaps next time you eat kale you will notice you feel lighter and brighter, compared to how you feel after eating other foods. 
Parsnips - Several components of parsnip, such as potassium, folate, and various antioxidants are known to provide neurological benefits. Folate has been known to reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Potassium has been linked to increasing blood flow to the brain and heighten cognition, concentration, and neural activity. One cup of parsnip contains 12 percent of the recommended daily needs of folate.
Squash – Winter squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, etc.) provide significant brain and health benefits. Winter squash contain Omega 3 fats, B vitamins (especially Vitamin B6), beta-carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium among other vitamins and nutrients. Winter squash can help keep your brain functioning well and also lower stress-related anxiety at the same time. Even the seeds from squash have brain benefits.  Pumpkin seeds are rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The zinc found in pumpkin seeds plays an important role in improving memory and brain function.
Spinach - Spinach is a good source of folate, protein, magnesium, Vitamin C and B vitamins. All of these reduce stress and/or help fight inflammation. Folate is also essential to healthy brain development. These compounds and others contained in green leafy vegetables are needed by brain to break down homocysteine levels which can lead to forgetfulness and even Alzheimer’s disease. Spinach is also high in iron, which can reduce the risk of developing cognitive impairment by reducing oxidative stress.
Sweet Potatoes - Sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamin C, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. They’re also low on the glycemic index, despite being high in carbohydrates. They provide anti-aging benefits due to their high amounts of Vitamin A (beta-carotene) and help fight inflammation and stress due to their high levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. Try to replace your normal refined carbs with sweet potatoes and you’ll notice so many mental and physical benefits. 
Take the time to enjoy fall and these many brain boosting fruits and vegetables. It will truly make your Fall memorable. For more insight into foods that improve brain health, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (530) 757-6687.