The "forbidden" treats that can fight dementia

The "forbidden" treats that can fight dementia  by Dr. Mark Stengler



You know what I hate about diets? It's probably the same thing you do -- that when it comes right down to it, most diets aren't really diets.

They're lists. Specifically, lists of don'ts.


Don't eat this... don't eat that... and definitely don't even try that other thing. By the time they're through with you, there's nothing left at all worth eating.


Today I'm going to correct that, because some of the foods you love -- including the very foods you've been told to avoid -- aren't just acceptable "cheats" in my diet.


They're essential parts of it.


And two "don'ts" in particular just might help protect your brain and prevent dementia.


The first is walnuts.


Even mainstream docs will admit that walnuts pack some healthy fats. But they'll also warn you to keep away from them because it's easy to get too much of those fats.


Plus, nuts are loaded with calories.


If you're trying to lose weight, they'll say, you need to limit the calories and fat so pass on the nuts.


But nuts can be a healthy part of a diet, even when you're trying to lose weight. And now, the latest research finds the antioxidants in walnuts can protect your brain as you age and may even help prevent Alzheimer's disease.


Mice fed walnuts daily had improvements in memory and learning skills, and lower levels of anxiety. They also had lower levels of oxidative damage in the brain caused by beta amyloid, the protein linked to Alzheimer's.


As a result, eating walnuts regularly might help prevent the disease, delay the onset or slow the progression.


And it doesn't take much to get the benefits. The mice got the equivalent of about 1-1.5 ounces of walnuts a day -- or just the right amount for a snack.


The study focused on walnuts, but other nuts come with healthy fats, minerals and antioxidants so feel free to mix it up. (Just avoid candy-coated, honey-roasted, caramel-covered and other sugared-up nut treats.)


Now, let me turn another "don't" into a "do."


You like chocolate, right? Of course you do. Everyone does -- and while chocolate does contain sugars and other stuff you don't need, cocoa is loaded with terrific antioxidants, especially the kind that can protect your brain.


In one new study, healthy people over the age of 50 given a special drink packed with cocoa flavanols such as epicatechin saw major improvements in their memory.


There's catch to this study, and it's a pretty big one: They used huge levels of these nutrients, so much so that you'd have to eat about seven chocolate bars a day to get that amount yourself, and that's definitely way too much.


I recommend taking a mixed approach: enjoy a square or two of a quality dark chocolate per day, and get the rest of these nutrients from a quality antioxidant supplement as well as other natural sources such as green tea, black grapes and blackberries.  


There's one diet that allows you to enjoy all these "don'ts" and more -- and it's just about the healthiest one on the planet. It's the Mediterranean lifestyle filled delicious healthy fats, and even allows for nuts, chocolate and purple grape juice.


Not coincidentally, the diet is also proven to protect the brain and slash the risk of dementia.


Even better, it'll give your heart a bulletproof jacket, cutting the risk of heart attack and even stroke.