Evidence Based Consumer Tips For Brain Healthy Eating


  • Be Brainy about brain, heart, and blood sugar connections. Every cardio-vascular risk factor adds to risk of AD.  Pre-diabetes and diabetes increase risk of cognitive decline and dementia. To increase heart and brain wellness, we emphasize foods that regulate and lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels, and are high in anti-oxidants to prevent oxidation of cholesterol, DNA, brain cells and more.


  • Honor Your Inner Hippo!  The hippocampus of the brain, an important region for memory, is especially sensitive to high or uncontrolled blood sugar levels, which can adversely affect brain health.   The delicate hippocampus is also very sensitive to imbalances in fats, and oxidative stress. Thus it is important to eat more omega 3 rich foods, reduce unhealthy fats, eat more plant based anti-oxidants, and control blood sugar.


  • Cool Inflammation.  Increase Omega 3s (fish & seafood), spices & herbs, berries, purple grapes & juice, green vegetables and green tea.  Use fewer Omega 6s and less red meat and dairy.  Eat more plant foods and fewer animal foods.


  • Prioritize Plants!  Reduce the amount of animal foods in your diet, and increase your intake of plant-based foods to help reduce blood fat levels, regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation – known antagonists to heart and brain health. This basic change will benefit heart, brain, and the rest of your body, and reduce risk of diabetes and cancer. Specifically…


  • Spice It Up!  Many herbs and spices have amazing protective properties –using cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, oregano, and turmeric in your cooking, while reducing or eliminating added salt and sugar, can provide tremendous benefits to your heart and brain health. Other herbs and spices help boost the immune system or improve blood flow and blood pressure.


  • Eat Your Veggies, especially leafy green vegetables which contain high levels of antioxidants including vitamins A and E, as well as traces of omega 3’s, and other brain healthy nutrients.  A variety of green leafy and brightly colored vegetables, as well as dried beans and peas and low sodium vegetable juice, are essential to brain and body health, Aim high, as vegetables are key to brain and body health. 7-10 portions a day is ideal.


  • Focus on Fruits!  Berries, for example, are nutrient-dense foods, loaded with potent antioxidants that can help counteract inflammation in the body and facilitate signaling among brain cells. All berries are important, not just blueberries—strawberries, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries and others each bring something special. Every fruit has a beneficial assortment of nutrients, and variety is key to maximizing your nutrient intake. Apples help increase the memory neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  Aim for 3-5 servings per day, choosing whole fruits over juices, to help boost your fiber intake.


  • Squelch the Sugar!   Limit your intake of highly processed, refined carbohydrates, and avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup and refined sugars.
    • Use natural sugar substitutes such as stevia, erythritol, or xylitol in your favorite recipes
    • Choose those foods that help regulate blood sugar levels, including complex carbohydrates (high fiber whole grains, fruits and vegetables), green tea, cinnamon & turmeric. For the small amounts of sugar in a brain healthy or diabetic diet, use molasses, honey and raw sugar which contribute some nutrients.
    • Eat fruit for dessert. Limit desserts with sugar to a few a week and favor those with healthy ingredients such as nuts, whole grains, fruits. And limit fruits and juice equivalents to 5 per day.


  • Go for the Grains!  Whole grains, that is. They’re rich in antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, iron, B-vitamins and other key nutrients that regulate blood sugar levels, reduce lipid levels and promote brain health. Choose whole grain varieties such as 100% whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and high fiber cereals.


  • Go Nuts!  All nuts and seeds provide antioxidants, fiber, and healthy types of fat that help regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels. A daily handful of almonds or hazelnuts, and certain seeds, helps provide Vitamin E – an essential brain cell protector. Watch your portions size, though, as calories add up quickly.


  • Oh, My…Omegas!  Omega-3 fatty acids make up a major part of brain cells but can only be ingested, not made by our bodies. Omega-3s are important for building brain cell membranes, dendrites and synapses.  They are also anti-inflammatory, and thus helpful for preventing or managing a variety of diseases. Choose fish (3 or more x a week!), seafood, fish oils, green leafy vegetables, walnuts, and flax seeds.


  • Favorite Fats!  Eat healthier fats such as Omega 3’s, and monounsaturated fats such as in olive oil and avocados (a great brain food!).  Use olive oil and canola oil for most of your cooking needs. Avoid transfats (partially hydrogenated oils) and reduce intake of saturated fats…emphasizing plant foods will help this strategy succeed.


  • Better B’s.  Be sure you get enough B vitamins in the correct proportions. B vitamins are vital to brain function, both thinking and emotional as well as preventing excess homocysteine, inflammation, and oxidation. Synthetic B vitamins such as found in enriched grains and vitamins work well as we age.  Most important are B-12 and niacin. Taking extra folate or folic acid is helpful only when taking B-12 or not deficient in B-12. Best choice is a B-50 complex to avoid imbalances and excess B-6.


  • Check the Cholesterol.  Use healthy oils such as olive and canola oils. Eat cholesterol reducing foods such as nuts, oatmeal, grapefruit, purple grapes and juice, niacin, fiber, fish, & certain spices. Eat lean meats and low-fat dairy. Avoid trans-fats (partially hydrogenated oils) and minimize foods with saturated fats, e.g. replacing ground beef, with ground turkey.


  • So Long to Salt!  The American Heart Association recommends restricting your intake of sodium to 1500 mg per day to promote heart (and brain!) health.  You’ll need to limit your intake of highly processed foods such as salted snack foods, as well as many food items that are canned, smoked, cured or in brine. Fortunately, there are many lower sodium versions of these favorite foods available; be sure to check at your local market for healthier options.


  • Drink Up!  Your body and brain need adequate fluid to function well. The general recommendation is to drink 6-8 glasses of fluid each day. At least half of this should come from fresh, pure water. For the remainder, choose healthful beverages such as green tea, herbal teas, 100% fruit juices, low sodium vegetable juices or “green smoothies” and 1% low fat or skim milk (limit milk intake to 1-2 glass/milk/day). Low sodium soups can also count toward your fluid intake. Avoid carbonated drinks and sodas as they deplete calcium from bones and teeth, and are often dehydrating rather than hydrating, may contain either sugar or artificial sweeteners, and usually no beneficial nutrients. One or two cups of coffee per day is healthy but be aware that coffee with or without caffeine is dehydrating so should not be your first drink of the day.  Start the day with one or two glasses of pure water!


  • Don’t forget D – vitamin D that is.  A growing body of research shows that vitamin D is essential for brain health, and protecting the heart, reducing risk of cancer, as well as bone and muscle health.  Americans are getting less D because we spend less time out of doors and many use skin-blockers. 70-80% of New Englanders are vitamin D. deficient.  Vitamin D enriched foods are insufficient. Thus taking a vitamin D. supplement is highly recommended.  Cod Liver Oil is rich in vitamin D.


Dr. Emerson Lombardo offers these research-based guidelines for brain healthy nutrition for the general public. Dr. Emerson Lombardo says that healthier eating, facilitated by specific dietary interventions, can benefit individuals of any age, whether or not they have memory loss. She states “Scientists researching Alzheimer’s disease believe changes and damage in the brain begin many decades before there are any symptoms of the disease. Following the Memory Preservation Nutrition® program can be an important step to take to protect your own brain health.”

Since research shows that cardio- vascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar all threaten brain health, the Memory Preservation Nutrition® program aims to help reduce or manage all these issues.  Key to a brain healthy nutritional program, such as represented by Memory Preservation Nutrition® program are natural whole foods containing high levels and variety of disease-fighting antioxidants, and other nutrients that help regulate blood sugar, manage lipid levels and help fight inflammation. Brain and body healthy nutrition also means eating more plant foods and fewer animal foods. Certain nutritional supplements may add extra assurance.  For many people, this brain healthy nutrition program also generally complements whatever medications a they may be taking for a particular chronic disease.

The MPN™ program of “brain foods” is excellent for children to help them do and feel their best in school.

Be sure to talk with your health care provider before undertaking dietary changes.

Please feel free to contact me by telephone or email if you have any questions or would like to inquire about my services.

To Your Good Health!


Nancy B. Emerson Lombardo, PhD



© 2012 Nancy Emerson Lombardo Ph.D. and colleagues, HealthCare Insights, LLC   All rights reserved. Do not copy all or parts of this page without written permission of HealthCare Insights, LLC.  Direct correspondence to Nancy Emerson Lombardo, Ph.D.   978-621-1926

To learn more about the MPN nutrition and brain healthy lifestyle program, how to adapt these strategies to your situation and tastes, please contact Dr. Emerson Lombardo & HCI.


DISCLAIMER: Always check with your physician about new dietary changes.



HCI      P.O. Box 2683, Acton, MA 01720


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