I just finished reading Genius Foods by Max Lugavere, which is a book focusing on brain health and the prevention of dementia. Did you know that diet is a main factor in being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? Another risk factor is carrying the protein APoE4, which is linked to late onset Alzheimer’s disease and the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. These amyloid plaques are a distinctive feature in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
In Genius Foods, Lugavere highlights ten genius foods that you should be eating to keep your brain healthy. Our lifestyles, exposures and diet TODAY will affect our future longevity. Below I will highlight some of these foods and their benefits. If you have an aging family member that could use a diet rehaul, or Alzheimer’s runs in the family, you definitely want to check out this book!
GENIUS FOOD #1: Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
EVOO contains a compound called oleocanthal, which causes the spicy feeling in the back of your throat if you eat a spoonful of olive oil (1). Oleocanthal is an anti-inflammatory phenol that can help remove amyloid plaques from the brain (1). Olive oil is a source of the healthy fat, monounsaturated fat, as well as antioxidants . A healthy amount of monounsaturated fat in the diet has shown in studies to decrease the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke, to reduce belly fat and help with weight loss. In choosing an olive oil, that spicy taste should be a good measure of quality: the more spicy, the better quality (1). One to four tablespoons daily has been shown to have preventative effects (2). Olive oil should come in a dark glass bottle and be stored in a cool and dry place (1).
GENIUS FOOD #2: AVOCADOS
I have often shared of the health benefits of avocados on social media and here they are again, a big player in brain health. Avocados are a fatty food that are rich in the healthy monounsaturated oleic acid which has been linked to reduced inflammation. Avocados help protect the brain and boost its processing speed by their fat content and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (1). The fat in avocados can help absorb nutrients from other foods – consider adding them to salads to obtain those nutrients from the carotenoids in leafy greens. The fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K also need fat to be absorbed properly.
GENIUS FOOD #3 BLUEBERRIES
Blueberries have long been linked with memory because of their antioxidant capacity, protecting against oxidative stress. Blueberries are rich in flavonoids – specifically, they contain anthocyanins that can cross the blood brain barrier and affect memory. Anthocyanins are found in teas, honey, wines, fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and cocoa (3). Anthocyanins have also been shown to reduce cancer cell proliferation and to inhibit tumor formation (3). Choose organic for all berries.
GENIUS FOOD #4 DARK CHOCOLATE
Most people are very grateful to hear about this one – but take a look at the cacao content in your chocolate. Lugavere recommends 85% or above – this is because most chocolates have added sugar, and the higher cacao content brings more antioxidants and less filler. Cacao beans are considered a fruit, and a great source of magnesium. Cacao flavanols in studies have reduced signs of aging, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased blood flow to the brain (1). Lugavere suggests up to one bar a week.
Interested in learning about the rest of the genius foods and studies on brain health?
Definitely check out the book!
1 Lugavere, Max. Genius Foods. 2018.
2 Dr Axe. Olive oil benefits. https://draxe.com/olive-oil-benefits/