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Treat Yourself and Your Family to Autumn’s Best Brain Food

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autumn whole foods by elvert barnes

As the days get shorter and mornings have that unmistakeable nip of autumn, we say goodbye to the fresh fruits and veggies of the summer months. While most of us think of summer as the best time for harvesting and consuming healthy fruits and vegetables, fall has its own set of fresh produce. And many of them, especially the deep greens and reds, are great for memory and brain health. Here are a few to consider, plus links to recipes for some of the more picky eaters in your family.

Apples Even though we can get imported apples all year long, the freshest and tastiest apples are available in the fall. Apples contain Quercetin. Quercetin is an antioxidant that is found mainly in the skin. It has proven more effective than vitamin C at protecting brain cells from oxidative damage that triggers neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. For a kid-friendly Apple recipe, click here
 
Arugula also known as rocket and rucola, is a less recognized cruciferous vegetable that provides many of the same benefits as other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. Along with other leafy greens, arugula contains very high nitrate levels (more than 250 mg/100 g). High intakes of dietary nitrate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of oxygen you need during exercise and enhance athletic performance. Better use of oxygen allows the body to get more oxygen-rich blood to the brain. For kid-friendly Arugula recipes, click here.
 
Broccoli isn’t just a low-calorie green veggie; it’s a (green!) monster of nutrition. Full of Vitamin B6, protein, Vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium, raw or cooked broccoli is a great stress-relieving food. This food has also been linked to fighting cancer, along with other cruciferous veggies, which shows how incredible is at supporting cellular function. For kid-friendly Broccoli recipes, click here.
 
Cabbage is full of vitamin K and anthocyanins that help with mental function and concentration. These nutrients also prevent nerve damage, improving your defense against Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Red cabbage has the highest amount of these power nutrients. For kid-friendly Cabbage recipes, click here.
 
Celery is loaded with a plant compound called Luteolin. A 2010 study came out that linked luteolin with lower rates of age-related memory loss. The reason: Luteolin appears to calm inflammation in the brain, which experts now believe to be primary cause of neurodegeneration. By inhibiting the action of inflammatory cytokines, luteolin seems to prevent a cycle of degenerative changes in the brain. Other good sources of Luteolin include peppers and carrots. For a kid-friendly Celery recipe, click here
 
Cranberries are another super-food that offer many benefits. You might already be aware that cranberries have been used against urinary-tract infections; they have also been found to be effective at promoting good brain health. Cranberries are like blueberries in that they are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to protect cells against free radicals which impact brain health and speed up aging. In addition, cranberries are particularly effective in reducing the impact of a stroke and in aiding recovery. According to WebMD Medical News, Cranberries contain flavonoids, which are compounds that help fight atherosclerosis, "hardening of the arteries." Flavonoids help reduce the amount of bad cholesterol clogging the walls of your arteries while increasing the level of good cholesterol in your system. The result is more blood flow to the brain, which improves brain performance. For kid-friendly Cranberry recipes, click here.
 
Kale is a nutrient-dense veggie that contains essential vitamins and minerals that the brain depends on to function. Kale contains 684 percent RDA of vitamin K, which is a powerful antioxidant nutrient that protects fat and has long been associated with blood-clotting. Vitamin K is needed to make the "specialized fats called sphingolipids that create the structure of our brain cells, and it promotes brain cells being more resilient by influencing gene expression," wrote Dr. Drew Ramsey, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute. Kale also contains manganese, which can better help you focus on daily tasks at work and provides a pick-me-up. Perhaps next time you eat kale you will notice you feel lighter and brighter compared to how you feel after eating other foods. For kid-friendly Kale recipes, click here
 
Parsnips Several components of parsnip, such as potassium, folate, and various antioxidants are known to provide neurological benefits. Folate has been known to reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Potassium has been linked to increasing blood flow to the brain and heighten cognition, concentration, and neural activity. One cup of parsnip contains 12 percent of the recommended daily needs of folate. For kid-friendly Parsnip recipes, click here.
 
Squash Winter squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, etc.) provide significant brain and health benefits. Winter squash contain Omega-3 fats, B vitamins (especially Vitamin B6), beta-carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium among other vitamins and nutrients. Winter squash can help keep your brain functioning well as well as lower stress-related anxiety. Even the seeds from squash have brain benefits.  Pumpkin seeds are rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The zinc found in pumpkin seeds plays an important role in improving memory and brain function. For kid-friendly Butternut Squash recipes, click here.
 
Spinach is a good source of folate, protein, magnesium, Vitamin C and B vitamins. All of these reduce stress and/or help fight inflammation. Folate is also essential to healthy brain development. These compounds and others contained in green leafy vegetables are needed by brain to break down homocysteine levels which can lead to forgetfulness and even Alzheimer’s disease. Spinach is also high in iron, which can reduce the risk of developing cognitive impairment by reducing oxidative stress. For kid-friendly Spinach recipes, click here.
 
Sweet Potatoes are packed with Vitamin C, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. They’re also low on the glycemic index, despite being high in carbohydrates. They provide anti-aging benefits due to their high amounts of Vitamin A (beta-carotene) and help fight inflammation and stress due to their high levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. Try to replace your normal refined carbs with sweet potatoes and you’ll probably notice so many mental and physical benefits! For kid-friendly Sweet Potato recipes, click here.
  
Take the time to enjoy fall and these many brain-boosting fruits and vegetables with your family. It will truly make everyone’s autumn more memorable. For more insights into Autumn's Brain Foods that improve brain health, contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or (530) 757-6687.
  

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