A great consumer guide was recently published by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America in association with the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition and Education Foundation, the National Fisheries Institute, and the American Egg Board’s Egg Nutrition Center.
This free consumer guide was put together to bring attention to and provide information on incorporating brain healthy foods into the diet. The main message of the guide comes down to “it’s never too early to start taking care of your brain.”
Researchers from all of the institutes involved in the cookbook came together to share data, information, and recipes.
“Eating a brain-healthy diet means including an array of foods–that’s why we’re so excited to partner with these food groups to create this easy-to-use guide,” says Kitty Broihier, MS, RD and Nutrition Advisor for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. “The Cognition Kitchen guide is a free consumer resource that provides science-based, but simple, information about these brain-healthy foods. Inside the guide consumers will find a selection of recipes and details on how these four foods help nourish a healthy brain.”
The research decided to be included in the final cookbook was condensed into 27 pages of healthy, easy-to-make recipes targeted towards anyone who is interested.
The cookbook is not intended to be a final draft. Instead the researchers note that data and studies reveal new things every day. This means that the cookbook will have to be updated to keep up with new information in order to stay relevant.
Wild Blueberries aka Brain Berries
Research has linked blueberries and cognition since the 1990s and has shown that these tiny blue wonders can improve various measures of cognitive ability for all ages—children, teens, middle-aged adults, and older adults. Much of the focus on cognitive benefits is due to the flavonoid content of the wild berries—particularly the anthocyanins (and by the way, research shows wild blueberries contain more anthocyanins than any other commonly consumed berry in the US diet, including ordinary blueberries).
Brain Healthy Fish
Fish and shellfish are among the only foods naturally rich in a healthy type of omega-3 fat called DHA, which literally builds the brain and helps support brain health throughout the entire lifespan. DHA makes up 97% of the omega-3s in a newborn’s brain, and the DHA content of an infant’s brain triples during the first three months of life. Research shows that children of moms who eat seafood 2-3 times each week during pregnancy reach milestones–like climbing stairs, copying sounds and drinking from a cup–more quickly. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages all children and adults, especially moms-to-be, to eat a variety of seafood—including popular options like salmon, canned tuna, shrimp, tilapia and crab—at least 2-3 times each week.
Brain-Healthy Tree Nuts
Tree nuts, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts, have been shown to help reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and may play a positive role in satiety and maintaining a healthy body weight. Emerging research is suggesting that long-term nut consumption may also improve cognitive function and help reduce cognitive dysfunction, such as dementia. Oxidative stress is believed to play a major role in brain health. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods, such as nuts, may help protect the brain against the effects of oxidative stress, and ultimately help decrease cognitive decline.
Eggs and Brain Health
Eggs are a naturally nutrient-rich choice providing a good or excellent source of eight essential nutrients, including choline — a nutrient that helps reduce the risk of birth defects and supports brain health throughout the lifespan; however, more than 90% of Americans (including approximately 90% of pregnant women) don’t get enough of this essential nutrient and it’s not found in high quantities in many foods. Fortunately, eggs are one of the most concentrated sources of choline in the American diet. In fact, two large eggs supply more than half the recommended intake for pregnant women and can help them meet their needs.
The new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans specifically recommend nutrient-dense eggs as an important first food for infants and toddlers, as well as for pregnant women and lactating moms. The new Guidelines affirm that eggs — long known to be a vital source of nutrients for people of all ages — provide several key nutrients important for babies during a time in which their brains are most rapidly developing and can contribute to health and well-being during every life stage.