Blueberries, omega-3 can help the brain, experts say

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Many experts say if people think of their body as a car, they'll want to fuel up like a Ferrari. Good "fuel" offers building blocks not just for the body but for the brain, too.

"There's a lot of nutrients that are important for brain health. Things like B-vitamins found in grains can help with concentration and focus. It can also give the brain the energy it needs," dietitian Patricia Bannan said.

It is a great excuse to eat pasta, breads and other high-quality whole grains such as quinoa and popcorn to get those vitamins.

"Research has shown that blueberries play an important role in brain health particularly when it comes to the age-related memory loss that people face," Bannan said.

Fresh or frozen blueberries do well in smoothies, oatmeal and even thrown in a salad, along with walnuts, to provide yet another important brain nutrient: omega-3 fatty acids.

"Omega-3 - having enough means we're reducing inappropriate inflammation," dietitian Ashley Koff said.

"When they do autopsies on the brains of Alzheimer's patients, they see inflammation. We need to reduce inflammation and omega-3s are one of the most anti-inflammatory molecules on the planet," nutrition expert Dr. Jonny Bowden said.

This essential fatty acid is highly concentrated in our brain. While fish and fish oil are filled with omega-3, there are other options to get the fatty acid.

"You could do organic soy beans, you could do walnuts, you can do hemp seeds," Koff said.

Other options can be almond butter in oatmeal or sunflower seed butter on toast as both options offer protein, heart healthy fats and fiber. The brain needs these foods to deliver a big dose of vitamin E.

A good intake of vitamin E may help the elderly fight memory loss as this antioxidant protects cell membranes from oxidative damage.

Bannan also suggested a healthy exercise regimen.

"There are things you can do lifestyle wise. Not only what you eat, but getting certain types of exercise in your diet. Stress reduction can help you maintain your memory and your brain function as you age," Bannan said.

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.