Diet and exercise are the fundamental keys to a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to aging, maintaining healthy habits can have positive long-lasting affects on your physical well being and your brain health. Moderate exercise performed regularly -- as opposed to intense or no exercise at all -- has been shown in studies to be linked to longevity and improved memory.
Making the right food choices can benefit more than just the number on the scale -- it can boost your overall brain health. Recent research has shown that women who consumed more “good” fats, such as the monounsaturated fats found in avocado, scored better on cognitive tests than those who consumed more “bad” fats, like the saturated fats found in red meat.
So where can you get your hands on these "good" fats? Check out our slideshow below for more foods to incorporate into your diet to give your brain a healthy boost.
Eating <a href="http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate" target="_hplink">two servings of fish weekly</a> can provide brain health benefits since it is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids -- which are important for brain function. Having a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids has been linked to lower risks of dementia and stroke, and can help improve memory.
Nuts And Dark Chocolate
Yes, <a href="http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate" target="_hplink">chocolate is good for you</a>! Dark chocolate has been found to sharpen focus because of the caffeine it contains. An ounce of nuts or seeds per day is a great source of vitamin E, which may slow cognitive decline.
Not only are these little berries delicious, <a href="http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate" target="_hplink">research has shown blueberries</a> may help to reduce the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia.
Herbs And Spices
Next time you're whipping up some grub, turn to your spice rack for an extra brain boost. Spices and herbs may do more for your health than you realize. According to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/daniel-amen-md-offers-adv_n_1275932.html#s693714&title=Herbs_And_Spices" target="_hplink">Dr. Daniel Amen, author of "Use Your Brain To Change Your Age,"</a> cinnamon balances blood sugar; garlic, oregano and rosemary increase blood flow to the brain; curry acts as an anti-inflammatory; and saffron can have anti-depressant effects.
Don't eliminate all of the fat in your diet. Instead, focus on incorporating good fats. In fact, if your cholesterol drops too low, you may be at greater risk for depression, according to Amen and several studies on low cholesterol. So what exactly are "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/daniel-amen-md-offers-adv_n_1275932.html#s693752&title=You_Need_Fat" target="_hplink">good fats</a>"? Dr. Amen advises people to eat foods rich in omega-3s to promote brain health, including almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, fish, lamb, avocados and green leafy vegetables. Another added benefit of eating good fats? "Your vitamins are actually absorbed better when you eat them with a little bit of fat," said Dr. Amen. "The American Heart Association recommends that unsaturated fats make up 18 to 28 percent of the calories in our diets," reports a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/good-fats_n_1408719.html" target="_hplink">Health.com</a> article.
Adding foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts could have great brain health benefits. These vegetables pack serious <a href="http://www.prevention.com/brainboostingfoods/3.html" target="_hplink">antioxidant power</a> which helps protect the brain. One Harvard Medical School study found that women who ate more of these veggies lowered their brain age by one to two years, Prevention reports.
A diet rich in <a href="http://www.prevention.com/brainboostingfoods/8.html" target="_hplink">whole grains</a> can help stabilize blood glucose levels. By keeping levels steady, you can feel more energized and focused.