10 foods to fuel your brain health

Food can improve your brainpower. A study from Rush University in Chicago, US, found that adults who followed a heart-healthy diet reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by up to 50 per cent compared with those who didn’t. The diet, a hybrid of Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), is called MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) and was developed by researchers who found that people following meal plans designed to curb heart disease and type 2 diabetes also had lower rates of Alzheimer’s.

1/ Beans

In addition to fuelling long runs and keeping you regular, these complex carbs are high in antioxidants to fight inflammation, keeping your grey matter healthy.

How often: Every other day.

Try: Cooking this chorizo and bean casserole, which is flavour-packed and perfect for colder days.

2/ Berries

Berries may decrease neuron loss and improve memory performance.

How often: Twice a week (try them in a smoothie).

Try: Grabbing a handful as a snack, or pop them in an acai berry bowl or chia breakfast pots for a refreshing start to the day.

3/ Colourful veg

Colours indicate that a food is rich in antioxidants, which can help protect your neurons from age-related decay.

How often: Once a day.

Try: Packing a variety of veg into this peanut noodle salad.

4/ Greens

Leafy greens are rich in folate, which researchers have linked to slower rates of brain decline.

How often: A salad a day.

Try: Mixing spinach and kale (or other greens of your choice) and use them as a base for these power salads.

5/ Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and pistachios are rich in fibre, fat and vitamin E (walnuts are the best for your mind).

How often: A daily handful.

Try: Using them to top cereal or blend them into these homemade nut butters.

6/ Olive oil

Olive oil, which is high in healthy fat, protects blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the brain.

How often: Daily.

7/ Poultry

Research suggests that the vitamin B12 found in chicken and turkey may play a role in fighting age-related decay in the brain.

How often: 100g twice a week (avoid the skin).

Try: Popping chicken or turkey breasts in a blender to make these spiced burgers to brighten your BBQ.

8/ Red wine and dark red juices

In moderation, red wine can help ward off brain decline, thanks to its antioxidants. Unsweetened grape and pomegranate juices can do the job, too.

How often: No more than a glass of wine a day.

9/ Oily fish

The omega-3 fats in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and anchovies are essential for the maintenance of good brain health.

How often: 100g at least once a week.

Try: Getting a healthy dose of protein with these sweet and spicy salmon burgers

10/ Wholegrains

The B vitamins and vitamin E in wholegrains such as wholewheat bread, oats, wild rice and quinoa may help decrease your risk of Alzheimer's by ridding the body of compounds linked to brain damage.

How often: Up to three servings per day.

Try: Cooking up rice and quinoa to go with meals, or soaking oats to make bircher muesli.


HOW TO FIT IT ALL IN

Breakfast

100g steel-cut oats topped with 75g mixed berries and 250g plain kefir.

Lunch

250ml black bean soup with veggies, spinach salad with olive oil and 28g chopped walnuts, and a slice of wholegrain corn bread with almond butter.

Pre-run snack

Handful of blueberries, and green tea with a squeeze of honey.

Dinner

115g grilled salmon, 125g steamed asparagus, 250g cooked wild rice and one glass of red wine.