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The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Lessen your chances of developing dementia by giving your eating habits a healthy makeover. Here’s how…

 

Watch your weight Research shows people who are overweight in mid-life are 71% more likely to develop dementia in later life than those who are of a normal weight. Cut excess calories by eating fewer fatty and sugary foods.

Fill up on fruit and veg ‘The benefits may be due partly to the antioxidants found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, which help neutralise and protect healthy cells from damaging free radicals,’ says dietitian Helen Bond. Aim to get your five-a-day or more.

Include Omega-3s ‘Although more research is needed, there’s promising evidence that omega-3 fats play a beneficial role in preventing cognitive decline, maintaining mental health and helping reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,’ says Helen. The best source? Oil-rich fish, such as salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna, sardines, trout and herring. Aim for two servings a week, or try a supplement if you struggle to eat enough fish. Moderate consumption of unsaturated fats (found in avocado and olive oil, fish and other vegetable oils, for example) was found to reduce the risk of later developing dementia by about half.

Focus on fibre ‘Research has shown people who have high-fibre diets, in particular wholegrain fibre, tend to have healthier hearts, which in turn may help to keep the brain healthy,’ says Helen. Aim for 18g a day: have porridge or wholegrain cereal for breakfast, rye bread or oatcakes for lunch, choose brown rice, wholewheat pasta or sweet potatoes for dinner, and snack on plain popcorn.

Take to the Med The general rule is to think all things Mediterranean – include olive oil, unsalted nuts and fish, fruit and veg.