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Eating These Foods Can Keep Your Brain Sharp, Study Shows

New research suggests that cheese, wine, and other yummy foods can help prevent cognitive decline.

It's true: Certain foods have been proven to be good for your brain! Not only are some considered to be brain foods, but according to a recent study, some of your favorite eats can even reduce your cognitive decline.

A study from Iowa State University, which was published in the November 2020 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, examined the effects food has on our brains over the years, according to Science Daily. The study consisted of looking at previously collected data from 1,787 adults in the UK, ages 47 to 77, who gave specifics about their eating and drinking habits at different life stages.

Specifically, this info included each person's intake of "fresh fruit, dried fruit, raw vegetables and salad, cooked vegetables, oily fish, lean fish, processed meat, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, bread, cereal, tea and coffee, beer and cider, red wine, white wine and Champagne, and liquor," reports Science Daily.

Pour glass red wine

Participants were also asked to complete a Fluid Intelligence Test—a multiple-choice assessment that reflects comprehension, problem-solving, and reasoning—at three different stages: Between 2006 to 2010, 2012 to 2013, and 2015 to 2016.

When these test scores were combined with the data on what each participant was eating and drinking at the time, the researchers were able to make certain correlations between food and drink intake and cognitive decline.

The study showed some surprising results, such as: Cheese is protective of brain function later in life; Drinking red wine showed improvements in cognitive function; Lamb is the most beneficial red meat for your brain when eaten once per week, and salt may not be bad for your brain (although, it's not necessarily great for your health if consumed in excess).

However, the study did not make mention of how much of these foods you should consume to experience their brain benefits (except for the once-weekly recommendation of lamb). It's pretty safe to assume that you don't want to eat cheese and drink red wine every single day—as with most indulgences, moderation is key.

It's also important to keep in mind that this research had some limitations, which the authors admitted. "While we took into account whether [these results were] just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways," wrote Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition and one of the lead researchers on the study.

Still, the results can at least provide a helpful guideline for you to consider when making food choices. As in, enjoying a comfy wine and cheese night at home every once in a while may mean that you're enjoying foods that reduce cognitive decline.

For more food news, here are 11 Healthy Foods That Make You Smarter, According to Doctors. And make sure to sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates.

Hedy Phillips
Hedy is a freelance writer with years of experience covering buzzy food trends, wellness, and weight loss. Read more
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