Mission: Nutrition – Eating Well as You Age (Part 4)

In this final installment of our series, we will take a look foods that help fight the onset of dementia. Alzheimer’s and dementia are some of the scariest and most emotionally-triggering degenerative diseases. But they are easier to prevent than previously thought.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. In Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation and insulin resistance injure neurons and inhibit communication between brain cells. Be aware of these 10 warning signs and symptoms of this cognitive disease. If you have any questions, always consult your doctor or medical practitioner.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty performing familiar tasks at work, home, or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

If you have a family history of dementia, one of the first things you can do to help combat this disease is modify your diet. The ingredients below will help you to preserve and improve your brain health.

 

Kale- This trendy cruciferous vegetable is high in folate and B9, which improve cognition and reduce depression.

Olive Oil- A Mediterranean staple that is chock full of omega 3 fatty acids, which help the brain to stay in optimal shape. People whose diets contain daily omega 3s have been shown to have 26% less risk of having brain lesions that cause dementia, compared with those who do not.

Cumin- This fragrant and earthy spice helps to break up brain plaque and reduce inflammation of the brain which can cause memory issues.

For a sublime taste sensation try this recipe for Caldo Verde. Literally translated it means green soup, the color being the result of the addition of the tender and succulent kale greens. Popular in Portugal, this comforting dish is perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

 

Caldo VerdeCaldo Verde

 

Ingredients:

 

  • ¼ cup  olive oil
  • 12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 pound kale greens, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Cook for a few minutes till translucent. Add the garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, pepper flakes, cumin, and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, another 3 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove 3/4 cup solids and 3/4 cup broth to a bowl or measuring cup.  Set aside. Add kale to pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to solids/broth mixture that was set aside. Place in blender jar (or use immersion blender) and process until very smooth and emulsified, about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and stir pureed soup mixture and vinegar, into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

*(do not substitute ground Mexican chorizo)

There are a myriad of different ingredients that will contribute to a healthy diet, and eating healthy doesn’t have to mean boring and bland. Tour the world for culinary inspiration, try new things, and have fun eating well as you age!