Whats Good for Your Heart Is Good for Your Brain

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A diet that is good for the heart is equally good for the brain. Foods that are low in saturated fats and high in fiber content and vitamins and minerals are ideal to prevent heart disease and stroke, and decrease free radical formation. The following table provides a broad overview of common foods and their relative nutritional content, and their potential impact on memory. Butter, margarine, and desserts are among the worst offenders, as is red meat. I strongly advise you to cook with oils high in unsaturated fats: canola, sunflower, corn, or olive oil. Walnuts contain a lot of "good" cholesterol and unsaturated

Common Foods and Their Nutritional Content

Potential

Fat Protein Carbohydrate Impact on

Foods Content Content Content Vitamins Minerals Memory

Butter, margarine

High

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

- -

Desserts

High

High

Medium to high

Low

Low

- -

Red meat

High

High

Low

Low to

Medium

- -

(pork, beef)

medium

Pizza

High

High

High

Medium

Low

- -

Cheese

High

High

Low

Low

Low

- -

Liver

High

High

Low

High, many vitamins

High

0

Egg yolk

High

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

-

Egg white

Nil

High

Nil

Nil

Nil

+

Poultry

Medium

High

Low

Low

Low

0

Fish

Low

High

Low

Low to medium

Low

+

Nuts

High

High

Medium

Variable

Low

0

Potatoes,

Low

Very low

High

Low

Low

0

bread, rice

Spinach,

Nil

Very low

Low

High in B

High

+

greens

complex

Other

Very low

Very low

Low to medium

B complex

High

+

vegetables

vitamins

Oranges,

Nil

Very low

Medium

High in

Low

+

citrus fruits

vitamin C

Other fruits

Nil

Very low

Medium

Vitamin C, other vitamins

Low to medium

+

Minus signs indicate a negative effect and plus signs indicate a positive effect.

fatty acids, but most nuts, including peanuts, are fairly high in saturated fat content and hence bad for you. Next come milk products with high concentrations of fat, particularly cheese. Milk itself and yogurt also contain some saturated fats, but in lower concentrations. Low-fat yogurt is an improvement but still contains some fats and cholesterol.

Egg whites are made up of albumin, which is a near-perfect protein source, but the yellow yolk is pure cholesterol. I recommend chicken without the skin, which contains a lot of saturated fat. Fish not only has the advantage of high protein and low fat content, but some species like cod and halibut contain the "good" fats (including omega-3 fatty acids) and cholesterol, which may actually reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, the fish-eating Japanese have one of the lowest rates of heart attacks in the world. So the old saying that fish is good for your heart and for your brain isn't too far off the mark.

Carbohydrates and Fiber

Carbohydrates are the body's main energy source, but if consumed in excess they are converted to fat and then deposited in all the wrong places. Bread, cereal, rice, pasta, and potatoes are foods that are rich in carbohydrates. For several reasons, vegetables and fruits are among the best types of food. They contain little to no fat, and their carbohydrate content is mainly glucose and fructose, simple sugars that are very easy to digest and convert into energy. Critically, they all contain a large quantity of fiber or roughage, which provides good protection against colon cancer and many other age-related diseases. Many of these fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and essential minerals, but the nutrient composition varies among different categories. Therefore, it is best to eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

Maintain Your Fluid Intake

Water is essential for life. But as we grow older, the brains regulation of the thirst mechanism begins to waver, and it sometimes even forgets to signal that we should drink. Talk about a part of the brain itself having a poor memory! This can become a big problem for elderly people living alone, who easily become dehydrated, which in turn leads to severe medical complications and even death. Sound nutrition requires a daily fluid intake between thirty-six to sixty-four ounces (three to five glasses of water) daily; drink more in the summer and when you're exercising, less in the winter and when you're sedentary.

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