Health Tips: Foods that fight Alzheimer’s disease


In 1979, the NHL finally decided that all hockey players had to wear helmets. That came more than a decade after the death of the North Stars’ Bill Masterton from an on-ice head injury. It took that long for the warrior culture to admit the toll that head injuries and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) were taking on players.

Regrettably, it’s taking even longer for folks to realize traumatic brain injury can happen from eating a diet loaded with saturated fats, red meats, dairy and processed and sugary foods. The average American still downs four and a half servings of red meat weekly, around 37% of you eat fast food regularly, and you’re eating about 40 pounds of cheese a year.

Now, another new study shows that what you eat is a major weapon when it comes to protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers used scans and tests of cerebrospinal fluid to determine that a Mediterranean diet reduces the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins and tau proteins, which stick together inside brain neurons and appear to cause Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Folks who regularly ate a diet of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grain cereals and monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, along with moderate alcohol consumption, had fewer beta-amyloid and tau clumps and a larger hippocampus. It’s the brain’s memory control center, and it shrinks early and severely in Alzheimer’s. So ditch added sugars and poach that salmon, cook up whole-grain pasta and have a salad and roasted veggies. Your brain -- and your waistline -- will thank you.

Let weight loss drive you (to) nuts

Is trying to lose weight driving you nuts? Well, maybe it should just drive you to nuts. New findings published in the journal Nutrients highlight the power that nuts have to help you lose weight and keep it lost.

UCLA researchers put 95 overweight or obese folks ages 30 to 68 on a diet that provided 500 calories less than needed to maintain their resting metabolic rate for 12 weeks, then maintenance for another 12. The diet included 1.5 ounces of mixed nuts for half the group and pretzels for the others (both “snacks” delivered the same amount of calories).

Most importantly, only 16.4% of the folks eating nuts dropped out of the program while almost 37% of the pretzel group did. Nuts offer healthy fats and protein that keep you feeling full much longer than the simple carbs found in pretzels. And while both groups lost weight by week 12, at 24 weeks the nutty folks were more successful at maintaining the weight loss. In addition, the nut-eaters saw a decreased heart rate and an increase in their blood level of oleic acid, the main component of olive oil. It’s a regulator of immune function and helps reduce lousy LDL cholesterol levels.

We’re fans of 14 walnut halves a day and the “Mac ‘N’ Cheese-Less” (with cashews) and “Cashew-naise” recipes in the “What to Cook When Cookbook.” Just remember, nuts are high in calories -- so limit your intake to the 1.5 ounces a day that the study found was so healthful.


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