They say “you are what you eat”, and when it comes to brain health, that’s very true. What you eat and how much can help you prevent or delay brain disease.
A Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, legumes and nuts has been shown to help maintain brain health and possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Knowing your numbers, when it comes to servings and sizes, is also just as important as what you’re eating.
Below are guidelines for a typical week of the Mediterranean diet.
Vegetables – Eat three servings a day (one serving equals ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables).
Fruits – Eat three servings a day (one serving equals ½ to 1 cup).
Olive oil – Have one to four tablespoons each day, including cooking oil.
Legumes – Have at least three servings a week of beans, peas, peanuts, etc..
Fish – Enjoy three servings a week. Smart choices include salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
Nuts – Snack on three servings a week (one serving equals ¼ cup raw unsalted or dry-roasted nuts, or two tablespoons nut butter).
Starches – Limit to three to six servings a day. One serving is one slice of bread or one ounce of dry cereal. Whole grains, oats and quinoa are good choices.
Meat – Have no more than three three-ounce servings a week. Go for chicken or turkey rather than red meat, which is best limited to three ounces of lean cuts.
Dairy/eggs – Stick to three servings a week of one-percent or fat-free milk, yogurt or cottage cheese.
Dessert – Treat yourself to a three-ounce serving once a week or have fruit, especially brain-healthy berries, to satisfy cravings for sweets. Enjoy a few ounces of dark chocolate with at least 72 percent cocoa solids.
Wine – One four- to six-ounce glass a day at most.
Remember that the Mediterranean diet is not really a diet but rather a lifestyle. It includes cooking and eating fresh food, savoring the taste and enjoying dining with family and friends.
For delicious recipes that are good for your brain, visit healthybrains.org/recipes.