A menu fit for the brain

Research shows that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, cereals and fish and low in fat (especially saturated fat) is associated with lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia with aging.

To get the most benefit for your brain:

Choose dark coloured vegetables and berries. These are particularly healthy for their natural antioxidant content.

Eat cereals and complex carbohydrates. They lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes — a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. Oats, because of the type of fibre they contain, are especially good

Cook “lighter”. Baking, steaming or grilling are easy ways to cut down on fat consumption.

Drink healthy alternatives. While we tend to think of obtaining our antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, some beverages (if made from plants) also contain antioxidants – tea is an especially good source.

Go for fatty fish. Choose salmon, mackerel or sardines for their healthy fats referred to as either fish oils or omega-3 fats.

Reduce your intake of salt. High levels of sodium increase your risk of developing high blood pressure — another risk factor for dementia. Remove the salt shaker from the table to help cut down on added salt.

Looking for a brain healthy dinner menu?

Staff from the Department of Food and Nutrition Services at Baycrest share some of their favourite brain boosting recipes.

Hummus Dip with Whole Wheat Pita Wedges and Red and Green Peppers

1 cup hummus
1 each red and green peppers
whole wheat pita bread as desired

Wash peppers well and cut into small slices.
Cut pita into wedges.
Place the hummus in a bowl in the centre of a platter.
Arrange the pepper slices and pita bread wedges on the platter around the bowl of hummus.
Garnish the hummus with a few small cubes of red pepper.

Serves six.

Baked Salmon with Herbs and Lemon Slices

Broccoli and Sweet Potatoes

Multigrain roll dipped in olive oil/balsamic vinegar

Baked Salmon with Herbs

1 whole salmon about 2 lbs (have about ½ lb per person)
½ cup freshly cut or ¼ cup dried parsley
1 ½ tbsp chopped chives
2 ½ teasp lemon juice
1 ½ tbsp water
salt and ground pepper to taste
garnish with lemon slices

Place the fish on enough foil (shinny side out) to cover the whole fish.
Sprinkle chives, parsley salt and pepper inside the fish cavity.
Mix the lemon juice with the water and sprinkle over the outside of the fish.
Seal the fish by folding the foil. Bake the fish on a cookie sheet at 450 F for about 25 to 30 min or until the fish is flaky.
Unwrap the fish and remove the skin.
Serve on a platter with lemon slices as the garnish.

Serves four.


Steamed Broccoli

Cut off the tough stalk, ends and wash well. Soak in salted (1 teasp) water for ½ hour.
Drain and cut broccoli lengthwise if thick to decrease cooking time.
Bring water to a boil and cook for about 7 to 10 min until desired doneness.
Drain and serve.

Sweet Potatoes

Wash well and cut into desired chunks.
Bring water to a boil and cook for about 20 to 40 min until desired doneness.
Drain and serve.
Garnish with almond slivers.

Berry and Nut Dessert

2 ½ cups fresh berries
1 cup low fat yogurt (can use a flavoured one if desired)
4 tbsp walnut pieces

Clean berries.
Keep back a few of the berries to use as a garnish.
Mix ingredients together and chill.
Garnish with the berries kept separate.

Serves four.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Thomas Perkins

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