June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, so there’s no better time than now to look for foods that feed our brains! One of our favorite brainiacs is Max Lugavere. Max is the author of the New York Times bestseller Genius Foods and he has really compelling ideas on what we should be eating to protect our brains for life. So, although the foods he favors are not necessarily for weight loss—but you certainly can lose weight if you consume fewer of the concentrated fats—they are all about feeding our brain. Here is his go-to top ten list of foods to load up on:
- Oils and fats: Extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed tallow and organic or grass-fed butter and ghee, avocado oil, coconut oil.
- Protein: Grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, pasture-raised pork, lamb, bison and elk, whole eggs, wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, shellfish and mollusks (shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, clams, oysters), low-sugar beef or salmon jerky.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds and almond butter, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds.
- Vegetables: Mixed greens, kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, chard, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, artichokes, alfalfa sprouts, green beans, celery, bok choy, watercress, turnips, asparagus, garlic, leeks, fennel, shallots, scallions, ginger, jicama, parsley, water chestnuts, nori, kelp, dulse seaweed.
- Non-starchy root vegetables: Beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips
- Low-sugar fruits: Avocados, coconut, olives, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapefruits, kiwis, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, lemons, limes, cacao nibs, okra. (Before you say these are not all fruits, don’t shoot the messenger. This is how Max lists them in his book).
- Herbs, seasonings and condiments: Parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, sage, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cardamom, ginger, cayenne, coriander, oregano, fenugreek, paprika, salt, black pepper, vinegar (apple cider, white, balsamic), mustard, horseradish, tapenade, salsa, nutritional yeast.
- Fermented, organic soy: Natto, miso, tempeh, organic gluten-free tamari sauce.
- Dark chocolate: At least 80% cocoa content, ideally 85% or higher).
- Beverages: Filtered water, coffee, tea, unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened flax milk, unsweetened coconut milk, unsweetened cashew milk.
Now, he also has a list of foods that can be eaten in moderation, three to four servings a week, organic where possible and consumed later in the day. They include:
Potatoes, non-gluten-containing unprocessed grains, grass-fed, full-fat, antibiotic- and hormone-free yogurt, heavy cream and hard cheeses, whole sweet fruit, legumes and some sweeteners.
So whether you just want to make some changes to the foods you consume or you are ready to jump into a full-blown “genius foods” diet, get the book to better understand the role foods plays in our quest to cope with stress, brain fog and dementia.