What Is the Number One Food That Fights Dementia? 22 Foods

Medically Reviewed on 12/20/2021
What Is the Number One Food That Fights Dementia
Plant-based foods, such as leafy greens and herbs, are the number one food that fights dementia and promotes brain health

Plant-based foods, such as leafy greens and herbs, are the number one food that fights dementia and promotes brain health. 

Vegetables have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect brain cells from free radical damage and oxidative stress. Here are brain-healthy foods that can protect you against cognitive decline.

22 foods that fight dementia

  1. Leafy greens: Darker greens, such as spinach, kale, and romaine, are rich in antioxidants and vitamin K, both of which are beneficial to the brain. They are best eaten raw for maximum nutritional value.
  2. Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts are high in vitamin K and glucosinolates, both of which have antioxidant properties and fight oxidative stress.
  3. Grapes: Grapes help promote cognitive function by increasing blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Raisins, or dried grapes, are also high in boron, which is a trace element that improves memory, attention, and hand-eye coordination.
  4. Blackcurrants: Blackcurrants are high in anthocyanin, an antioxidant that works similar to medications used to treat mood disorders. According to cognitive tests, blackcurrant drinks can improve attention and mood and reduce mental fatigue.
  5. Berries: All berries are beneficial to brain health, but blueberries are especially beneficial to the brain because they contain flavonoids, which stimulate brain pathways linked to slower cellular aging. Acai and strawberries have similar effects.
  6. Beans: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas contain a combination of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that support brain and overall health.
  7. Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, and iron found in all types of fish are thought to aid in cognitive function. Fattier fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, anchovies, and trout, also contain selenium, potassium, B vitamins, and magnesium, all of which help fight against dementia.
  8. Whole grains: Whole grains have their high levels of B vitamins, protein, fiber, and carbohydrates, which provide long-term energy to the brain while also promoting the growth of bacteria in the gut. Quinoa, millet, oats, buckwheat, teff, and sorghum are some excellent whole grain options to consider.
  9. Olive oil: When it comes to foods that help fight dementia, healthy fats are critical. Olive oil is a great cooking oil and salad dressing base, as it is high in brain-healthy nutrients like monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants. 
  10. Nuts: Unsalted nuts are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the brain. Walnuts are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, as are pistachios, almonds, and macadamia nuts.
  11. Seeds: Including seeds such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and linseeds in your diet can help prevent dementia. These seeds are an excellent snack to have in between meals. The seeds are high in vitamin E and a variety of brain-boosting minerals. Linseeds, in particular, provide the body with plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in cholesterol reduction and inflammation reduction. In addition, they contain chemical compounds that protect blood vessels from inflammatory damage.
  12. Sweet potato: Sweet potatoes are high in minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, and vitamins C and A, all of which are good for the brain. They also help regulate blood sugar levels and have anti-inflammatory properties.
  13. Dark chocolate: Flavanols, an antioxidant found in cocoa powder, aid in improving blood flow to the brain.
  14. Tea: Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, helping with memory, focus, mood, and general cognitive functions. Tea leaves also contain compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier and improve brain health, such as theophylline, theobromine, and epigallocatechin gallate. Green tea contains L-theanine, an active ingredient that improves mood and has a calming effect without causing drowsiness. Certain catechins in tea also have anti-inflammatory and antidepressant properties.
  15. Coffee: Coffee contains several bioactive compounds that contribute to overall health, including caffeine, chlorogenic acids (CGA), cafestol, kahweol, and trigonelline. The majority of these are antioxidants that fight free radical damage. CGAs are polyphenol antioxidants that benefit biological pathways such as blood sugar metabolism and help prevent age-related mental decline. According to some studies, regular moderate coffee consumption has been linked to a lower risk of dementia.
  16. Turmeric: Curcumin in turmeric has been reported to increase the availability of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the brain. DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for brain health, and DHA deficiency has been linked to cognitive decline and the onset of dementia.
  17. Saffron: Saffron is high in antioxidants and has long been used in medicine for its neuroprotective properties. While more research is needed, it’s not a bad idea to include this spice in your diet, especially given how delicious it is.
  18. Rosemary: Rosemary is one of the most beneficial herbs for brain health. Rosemary contains carnosic acid, which has antioxidant properties which can fight free radicals and improve cognitive function. In small doses, this herb can improve concentration and slow memory decline.
  19. Sage: Sage has long been used for its brain-boosting properties. The herb has been shown to improve learning and cognition in elderly people suffering from mild to moderate dementia.
  20. Cinnamon: This spice can help break up plaque and reduce inflammation in the brain, which can cause memory problems in people with dementia.
  21. Parsley: Parsley is high in essential nutrients and has been shown to have positive effects on the brain by strengthening brain cell connections and reducing neuronal damage.
  22. Thyme: Thyme contains flavonoids such as apigenin, which is known to improve neuron formation in the brain, as well as a variety of health-promoting nutrients such as vitamins A and C, iron, copper, manganese, and dietary fiber.

What is the MIND diet?

The MIND diet (Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is designed to reduce your risk of cognitive disorders such as dementia. The diet includes:

  • Vegetables, particularly leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables
  • Fresh fruit, particularly berries
  • Walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds
  • Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and other legumes
  • Whole grains, such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, barley, and farro
  • Fish, particularly wild-caught fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, halibut, trout, tuna, and mackerel
  • Lean meats such as pasture-raised poultry

The MIND diet allows one glass of wine per day, ideally red wine, which contains more antioxidants. The diet recommends avoiding or limiting sugar, red meat, alcohol, and processed foods.

In addition to eating healthy, getting regular exercise and doing mental exercises can keep your brain cells stimulated and functioning properly.


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Medically Reviewed on 12/20/2021
Image Source: iStock Images

Brain Foods That May Help Prevent Dementia: https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/ss/slideshow-dementia-foods

What you eat and drink and your brain: https://www.dementia.org.au/sites/default/files/helpsheets/Helpsheet-DementiaQandA07-WhatYouEatAndDrinkAndYourBrain_english.pdf

Foods that Help Fight Dementia: https://www.vnsny.org/article/foods-help-fight-dementia/

Nutrition For Dementia Patients: https://www.dementia.org/best-foods-for-dementia-patients-to-eat