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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Brain Power with Salmon and Coffee

by Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.

Do you want to sharpen your memory? I pray that you like salmon and coffee than!

There are good fats and bad fats, and omega-3 fatty acids fall solidly on the side of good. Omega-3s are found primarily in fatty fish (especially salmon), certain nuts and seeds, and fortified foods. A study conducted by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed more than 3000 men and women for six years to see how diet affected memory.

People who ate fish at least once a week had a 10 percent slower decline compared with those who did not eat fish, a difference that gave them the memory and thinking ability of a person three years younger.

Some of the BEST foods for Omega-3 Fats: Salmon (wild, fresh or canned), herring, mackerel (not King), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, Pacific oysters, omega-3 fortified eggs, flaxseeds, walnuts, butternuts (white walnuts), seaweed, walnut oil, canola oil, and soybeans.

How about coffee? Any coffee lover can tell you they think more clearly after a good, strong cup of caffeinated coffee. Now, they have proof. Researchers from the University of Innsbruck in Austria used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain activity of people working on a memory task. The volunteers were tested twice, once after receiving the caffeine equivalent of about two cups of coffee, and once without any caffeine. Caffeine improved the memory skills and reactions times of the volunteers. In addition, caffeine increased brain activity in two locations-the memory-rich frontal lobe and the attention-controlling anterior cingulum. Without caffeine, there was no increase in brain activity. So if memory problems are a major concern for you, and if you don't have a medical condition that precludes caffeine, feel free to indulge in a cup or two in the morning to jump-start your brain.

*NOTE: If you have elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, you should limit your caffeine fix to plain brewed coffee or tea. There is some evidence that unfiltered coffee (the kind used to make espresso, cappuccino, and latte) may raise cholesterol levels, especially in people who are already battling high cholesterol. To be safe, skip the fancy brews and stick with a regular cup of joe. Of course, be cautious and moderate with added sugar!

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Have a great day and God Bless!

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