Menu made for maintaining the mind

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

05-02-06

Consume chocolate, nuts and red wine. Who could argue with that?

According to the Alzheimer's Association, such eating habits also reduce your risk of developing dementia. The St. Louis chapter of the Alzheimer's Association has been holding an annual wine-tasting and auction as a fundraiser for three years, but this year a brain flash swept the planning committee: Why not put the "Maintain Your Brain" recommendations into practice for the fundraiser's menu?

Wine was already an integral part of the event, and last year "we also had a small bit of chocolate," recalled Nancy Litzau, director of communications and development for the St. Louis chapter of the association.

"That was just a lucky coincidence, though. This year, we decided to build the event around food that's good for your brain."

The menu for this year's event includes a chocolate tasting and an hors d'oeuvres buffet that incorporates nuts.

"We're also hoping to send our guests home with a gift bag that includes red wine, nuts and chocolate, because these are good for both the head and the heart," Litzau said.

In addition, the Alzheimer's Association provided Let's Eat with "brain friendly" recipes that incorporate red wine, nuts and chocolate.

Red wine, nuts and chocolate are high in antioxidants, which appear to protect brain cells. But the Alzheimer's Association recommends that they be consumed in conjunction with dietary guidelines to manage your body weight and limit foods high in fat and cholesterol. Supplements containing vitamin E, vitamins E and C together, vitamin B-12 or folate also may be important in lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

STAYING SHARP

The four pillars of the Alzheimer's Association's Maintain Your Brain program:

Stay mentally active. Mentally stimulating activities strengthen brain cells and the connections between them and may even create new nerve cells.

Remain socially involved. Social activity not only makes physical and mental activity more enjoyable, it can reduce stress levels, which helps maintain healthy connections among brain cells.

Stay physically active: Exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain and to encourage the creation of new brain cells.

Exercise also can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and thereby protect against those risk factors for Alzheimer's and other dementias.

Adopt a brain-healthy diet. According to current research, a brain-healthy diet is one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain and is low in fat and cholesterol. Research suggests that high cholesterol may contribute to stroke and brain cell damage. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients, including protein and sugar, to function well.

Source: Alzheimer's Association

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