Mental decline is a normal part of getting older, but neurodegenerative diseases don’t have to be. Protect your brain by staying mentally active. Reading, doing puzzles, and playing games are awesome ways to stay sharp.1 But why stop there?
Diet also matters. Specifically, avocado might slow down the way your brain ages. It’s a great reason to reach for more guac! Here’s some food for thought.
How Avocado Protects Your Brain
1. Improves Attention
Avocado contains lutein, a carotenoid that’s also found in leafy greens and eggs. Normally, it’s associated with eye health. But according to a 2017 study in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, lutein can also keep your brain in check. The experiment involved 60 adults, ages 25 to 45. Researchers measured their levels of lutein before assigning attention tasks. Meanwhile, their brain activity was recorded. The outcome? Higher levels of lutein was linked to better attention, suggesting that it improves neuron communication.
What an excellent reason to enjoy avocados! Thankfully, there’s no need to wait until you’re older. By eating lutein-rich foods during early and middle adulthood, you can protect the brain as soon as possible.2
2. Fights Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress can do a number on brain cells. Free radicals can easily pass through cell membranes, causing DNA damage and gene mutations. As cells die, neurodegenerative diseases thrive.3 Luckily, avocado is packed with antioxidants. It’s all because of phytochemicals, or plant chemicals. These compounds suppress the growth of free radicals. In turn, the brain is protected from the damaging effects.4
3. Lowers Hypertension
Avocado also fights high blood pressure, or hypertension. This common condition affects 1 in 3 American adults!5 Hypertension messes with blood flow to the brain, increasing the risk of cognitive decline.6
By eating avocado, you’ll be that much closer to controlling blood pressure. It also protects blood vessels and suppresses inflammation, making it a must for heart and brain health. Fruits like blueberries, apples, and pomegranates have similar effects.7
Ways To Eat Avocado
This health food trend is easy and delicious. Simply spread mashed avocado on a slice of whole grain toast. Sprinkle with spices like paprika, black pepper, or oregano. Enjoy as a snack, breakfast, or side.
2. Pasta Sauce
It’s easy to use avocado as a creamy, nutritious dressing. Blend with olive oil and spices until it reaches the desired consistency. Grapeseed, sunflower, or avocado oil can also be used.
You can’t go wrong with fresh guac. Mash up an avocado or two and mix with corn, black beans, and cilantro. Pair it with tortilla chips or tacos.
Instead of starchy potato fries, use avocado. Slice it up, dip in egg, and roll in breadcrumbs and spices. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes.
5. Baked Eggs
Take a break from the average omelet and cook your eggs in avocado. First, slice one in half and take out the pit. Beat an egg and add to each avocado half. Sprinkle with spices. Bake for 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Egg Salad
For a healthy egg salad, ditch the mayo for mashed avocado. Simply chop up boiled eggs and mix together. Add extra flavor with fresh herbs, spices, and tomato.
7. Ice Cream
Avocado serves as the perfect base for dairy-free ice cream. Freeze avocado and banana slices, and blend with fruits of your choice. You can even toss in cocoa powder!
|↑1||Stay Mentally Active. Alzheimer’s Association.|
|↑2||Walk, Anne M., Caitlyn G. Edwards, Nicholas W. Baumgartner, Morgan R. Chojnacki, Alicia R. Covello, Ginger E. Reeser, Billy R. Hammond, Lisa M. Renzi-Hammond, and Naiman A. Khan. “The Role of Retinal Carotenoids and Age on Neuroelectric Indices of Attentional Control among Early to Middle-Aged Adults.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience 9 (2017).|
|↑3||Li, Jie, Wei Li, Zhi-Gang Jiang, and Hossein A. Ghanbari. “Oxidative stress and neurodegenerative disorders.” International journal of molecular sciences 14, no. 12 (2013): 24438-24475.|
|↑4||Ameer, Kalandar. “Avocado as a Major Dietary Source of Antioxidants and Its Preventive Role in Neurodegenerative Diseases.” In The Benefits of Natural Products for Neurodegenerative Diseases, pp. 337-354. Springer International Publishing, 2016.|
|↑5||High Blood Pressure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑6||Csiszar, Anna, Stefano Tarantini, Gábor A. Fülöp, Tamas Kiss, M. Noa Valcarcel-Ares, Veronica Galvan, Zoltan Ungvari, and Andriy Yabluchanskiy. “Hypertension impairs neurovascular coupling and promotes microvascular injury: role in exacerbation of Alzheimer’s disease.” GeroScience (2017): 1-14.|
|↑7||Zao, Cai-Ning, Xiao Meng, Ya Li, Sha Li, Qing Liu, Guo-Yi Tang, and Hua-Bin Li. “Fruits for Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases.” Nutrients 9, no. 6 (2017): 598.|