11 Tasty Foods That Reduce Alzheimer's and Dementia Risk

Want to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease as well as other types of dementia? Here are 11 foods that researchers have repeatedly studied and found to be correlated with a lower ​risk of dementia.

1

Berries

Berries in a bowl

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Eating strawberries, blueberries, and acai fruit have been correlated with multiple benefits for our brains, with studies demonstrating improved memory in children as young as 8 to 10 years old and all the way through older adulthood.

For example, one study published in 2013 found that participants who ate a greater amount of berries experienced a slower cognitive decline, of up to 2.5 years difference, as they aged. In people with mild cognitive impairment, another study published in 2011 found that drinking wild blueberry juice was associated with improved cognitive functioning.

2

Coffee/Caffeine

Old coffee mill and coffee cup filled with coffee beans
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Both caffeine in general and coffee specifically have been associated with cognitive benefits, including a significantly lower risk of progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia.

Studies have also found specific benefits in overall memory, spatial memory, and working memory.

3

Leafy Green Vegetables

Spinach leaves

Naho Yoshizawa / Getty Images

Leafy green vegetables contain vitamins that boost your brain functioning. In a 2018 study involving adults who were 58 years to 99 years old, eating green leafy vegetables was associated with the equivalent of being 11 years younger cognitively. Other studies published in 2005 found a reduced risk of dementia in those with higher levels of folate which is found in leafy green vegetables.

4

Nuts

close up of assorted nuts

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Several studies have connected nut consumption to a lower risk of dementia. While some research demonstrates improved memory and recall in people whose cognitive functioning is normal, other research on mice published in 2014 suggests that walnuts may even be able to improve memory in tho already have Alzheimer's disease. However it's important to note this study wasn't done on humans.

5

Some Types of Cocoa/Chocolate

Close up of chocolate bars and truffles

Larry Washburn / Getty Images

Chocolate may be one of the tastiest ways to reduce the risk of dementia. Multiple studies have associated cocoa and dark chocolate with a lower chance of cognitive decline, according to a 2017 review. The important clarification is that dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, generally is going to provide the most boost to your brain.

6

Low to Moderate Amounts of Alcohol

Glasses of wine, beer, a cocktail, brandy, and a shot lined up

Henrik Sorensen / Digital Vision / Getty Images

This is a somewhat controversial one since there are some risks associated with drinking alcohol, but multiple research studies demonstrated a cognitive benefit for those who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol. Some of this may be related to the resveratrol in red wine, but other research found this benefit in other kinds of alcohol as well.

Keep in mind that there are some people who should never drink alcohol, such as alcoholics, those with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and those for whom it will interact with their medications.

7

Fish

cooked salmon on a bed of spinach with sides of avocado, rice, and tomatoes

Nigel O'Neil / Moment / Getty Images

The omega 3 fatty acids found in certain types of fish have been touted as great for your brain health, and most research conducted on this has agreed. Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, tuna, halibut, and trout.

8

Cinnamon

several cinnamon sticks in a mug

KAZUO OGAWA / amana images / Getty Images

Multiple studies have demonstrated that cinnamon, when given to mice, was correlated with an improvement in the ability to clear the buildup of protein in the brain that's connected with Alzheimer's disease, as well as improve memory and other cognitive functioning.

Additionally, cinnamon has been associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, along with heart and lower blood pressure, all of which have been tied to better brain health.

9

Curcumin/Tumeric

Small wooden bowls of spices including turmeric

Alejandro Rivera / E+ / Getty Images

Like curry? Curcumin has been demonstrated to be highly correlated with both preventing cognitive decline and treating dementia already present in mice. One challenge for humans is that our bodies often don't easily absorb curcumin.

10

Fruits and Vegetables

Pile of assorted fruits and vegetables

Cristian Baitg / E+ / Getty Images

A heart-healthy diet of fruit and vegetables has been connected to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. Load that plate with colorful veggies and fruits to ensure that you're meeting your body's needs for vitamins. Multiple studies have found that a decreased risk of cognitive impairment was tied to consuming higher amounts of fruits and vegetables.

11

Mediterranean Diet

Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, black olives, red onion, and a slice of mozzarella

E+ / Getty Images

As opposed to one specific food, the Mediterranean diet is an overall approach to eating and includes several of the foods previously listed. It has been demonstrated to be strongly connected to an improved cognitive functioning and a lower risk of the development of dementia.

A Word From Verywell

While there are some risks for cognitive decline that are out of our control, our diet is a factor that is highly within our control. The food we choose is tied to both body and brain health, and maintaining our health—as much as we are able—is a gift that benefits ourselves, as well as our loved ones.

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