Dietitian’s dish: Top 5 foods for your brain health

Published 6:21 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2022

By Kristina Swanson

Corporate Hy-Vee Dietitian

What is brain health? Brain function can be broken down into cognitive and emotional abilities. Cognitive function relates to information processing, and emotional function refers to how well we respond to and translate feelings. Brain function can be impacted by injury, age and life events — and also by the foods we eat. For example, monounsaturated fats in avocados and olive oil can lower the risk of cognitive decline, while diets high in saturated fats can increase the risk of neurological diseases. To help prolong the life of a fully functioning brain we need to eat foods that benefit our brain health.

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Add these brain-nourishing foods to your cart the next time you shop:

Leafy greens: A recent study found that folate and lutein found in leafy greens such as kale and spinach may slow cognitive decline.

Berries: These contain high levels of flavonoids, associated with impacting the flow of oxygen and blood, which can lead to boosted concentration.

Nuts: Many nuts, especially walnuts, contain omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation and help protect cells against oxidative stress, which can be harmful to the brain.

Fish: Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon can help support healthy blood flow to the brain, which may assist in brain development and improving memory.

Whole grains: Barley, brown rice and buckwheat are among whole grains packed with vitamin E, which protects cells from damage and may help delay or prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Try to include a variety of the brain-nourishing foods listed above to follow the MIND diet, which is a combination of the DASH and Mediterranean diet, for optimal brain health as you age. Use this delicious recipe to get you focused on your brain health:

Kale Salad with Salmon and Blueberry Vinaigrette

Serves 4

All you need

• Blueberry Vinaigrette

• ½ cup fresh blueberries

• 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

• 1 tbsp Hy-Vee honey

• 1 tsp Hy-Vee Dijon mustard

• ⅛ tsp Hy-Vee salt

• 3 tbsp Gustare Vita extra virgin olive oil

Kale Salad and Salmon

• 1 (1 lb) Verlasso salmon fillet

• 2 tbsp Gustare Vita extra virgin olive oil, divided

• 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

• 1 tsp fresh orange zest

• ½ tsp ground coriander

• ¼ tsp Hy-Vee salt

• 3 cups kale leaves, stems removed

• 1 cup Hy-Vee Short Cuts broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces

• 2 tbsp fresh orange juice

• ½ cup fresh blueberries

• 1 large red beet, peeled, cooked, and cut into thin wedges

• ¼ cup Hy-Vee chopped English walnuts, toasted

• Orange, wedged, for serving

All you do

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with foil; set aside.

2. Prepare Blueberry Vinaigrette: Place blueberries, white balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and salt in a blender. Cover and blend until pureed. Add olive oil and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Pat salmon dry with paper towels and place on prepared pan. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, rosemary, orange zest, coriander and salt. Rub mixture on top of salmon. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or just until fish flakes when tested with a fork (145 degrees).

4. Toss together kale and broccoli in a large bowl. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil and orange juice over greens mixture. Gently massage with fingers until kale is dark green and tender. Toss in blueberries and beets.

5. Divide kale mixture and salmon among four serving plates. Sprinkle walnuts over top. Serve with Blueberry Vinaigrette and orange wedges.

Recipe source:

Recipe Link:  Kale Salad and Salmon with Blueberry Vinaigrette | Hy-Vee

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.