How to improve memory with food

Whether you have problems with your memory or a family history of dementia, you may want to know about foods for brain health.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the fifth leading cause of death in those 65 and older. There is mounting evidence of the connection between chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Deaths from AD have increased by 71% over the past decade and 5.4 million people are living with AD in the United States.

Nutrition to decrease risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Recently, I participated in a webinar by SeAnne Safaii-Waite, PhD, RDN, LD and Sue Stillman Linja, RDN, LD about the latest research on the science behind food and Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Prevention Food Guide by these speaker/author/researchers examines the nutrition research to fight Alzheimer’s Disease with a knife and a fork. A healthy diet will increase cognitive thinking and lower the risk of AD and slow the progression of AD.  Following a mediterranean diet is especially helpful for those who have the genetic risk (ApoE4).

Nutrition tips to help nourish and protect your brain:

There are 105 foods that promote brain health here are a few…

1. Use More Herbs and Spices to improve memory with food 

Cooking with herbs and spices can help improve your brain health. Turmeric (active ingredient curcumin) found in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. See sample recipe here for turmeric rice.  

foods for brain health tumeric rice

2. Leafy Greens are foods for brain health

Consume leafy greens DAILY (vitamin E, selenium, antioxidants).  Check out this  Kale and Quinoa Power Salad recipe here! 

foods for brain health with quinoa salad

3. Vegetables

  • Sweet potatoes (vitamin C and A, antioxidants). See sample Sweet Potato Hash recipe here.  

improve memory with food


4. Fruit

  • Berries/Grapes (resveratrol)  Try a smoothie!


5. Legumes (also called pulses) are also foods for brain health

  • Garbanzo Beans (flavonoids, b-vitamins) See our popular Chickpea Salad recipe. 

foods for brain health


6. Whole Grains help improve memory with food

  • Oats (antioxidants, vitamin E and B, etc.) See sample overnight oats recipe here.

improve memory with food

7. Nuts and Seeds

  • Walnuts (omega-3 fatty acids) See sample Salmon with Pesto Sauce recipe here.  

improve memory with food with salmon


8. Oil

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (monounsaturated fatty acid). See sample Tuscan Rice Soup recipe here

Alzheimer’s Disease


9. Protein are foods for brain health

  • Fatty Fish (omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, DHA) See sample Maple Baked Salmon recipe here

improve memory with food


10. Fermented Foods help improve memory with food

  • Ask your dietitian for more information on fermented foods and other foods including coffee, green tea and seaweed. 

Additional information on Alzheimer’s Disease

With dementia and Alzheimer’s being the 6th leading cause of death in America, it’s hard to not be worried about the future of our cognitive function. While we still have yet to find a true cure, we do have some promising research as far as what can prevent the progression of cognitive decline and it just so happens, that intervention includes nutrition! If you are worried about your brain health, or the brain health of a loved one, you have found the right place.

A recent discovery in Alzheimer’s patients has made a massive impact on the way we approach treatment and provided an explanation for why we have failed in finding just one specific medication to treat the symptoms. The discovery? Alzheimer’s is not the result of a failure of one organ, one organ system, or even one organism – but instead it is the result of a combination of 36 different metabolic contributions that results in changes in the function of the cell signaling molecules in the brain.

Alzheimer’s Analogy

The perfect analogy for this is a church – imagine if the church roof had 36 holes in it, if you just patch one hole, the rain will still continue to pour in. The same thing is happening with the medications used to treat Alzheimer’s – the drug focuses on one problem, not the other 35.

So how do we go about patching all 36 holes? With a change in lifestyle that includes changes in nutrition, physical activity, stress, structural integrity of the gut, timing of meals, and reduction of inflammation.

The number one contributing factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease is insulin resistance, commonly present in patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Metabolic Syndrome, and excess adipose tissue. Insulin resistance is directly correlated with excess sugar intake – a risk factor that can easily be addressed with the assistance of a registered dietitian.

Need foods for brain health to slow down Memory Loss?

If you feel like it takes you longer to calculate a tip, can never seem to remember where you placed your keys, or are worried about a loved one – it’s not too late. Reach out to a dietitian today and we can help get started with the lifestyle changes you need to prevent cognitive decline.

In the meantime, focus on increasing your intake of healthy fats such as those listed below, decreasing your intake of simple carbohydrates and doing some research on which intermittent fasting regime might work best for your schedule. Then take a moment, take a breath, and know that you can destress – we can work through this together.

Healthy Foods to Increase to improve memory with food:

  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Beef / buffalo
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Coconut
  • Chia Seeds
  • Eggs
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Flax Seeds
  • Green tea
  • Mackerel
  • Pomegranate
  • Salmon
  • Seaweed
  • Spinach
  • Tuna


For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease…

Another valuable resource is the Canadian Brain Health Food Guide has a helpful brochure to focus on which foods help the brain. See below:

Please reach out to our team for individualized intervention for you and/or your loved one by filling out our contact form below. 

This blog is dedicated to my mother-in-law who is suffering with AD.

Reviewed and updated April 2020.

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Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients.  Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and  Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.

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