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Menopause Corner
Menopause Corner

Wendy Hoffman blogs about menopause and women's health—particularly focusing on how diet and nutrition can positively affect a woman's life around the age of menopause.

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Food For Thought: What to Eat to Boost Your Memory

top rated ORAC fruits I know I’m not alone in often forgetting names of close friends, or recalling the name of the book that I recently read, or heck, that I’m currently reading. Occasional memory lapses are a normal part of aging and the decline of estrogen that puts us into menopause in our 40s and 50s contributes to the “brain fog” that’s typical for women during this chapter of our lives. 

But, like most boomer-aged women, I worry that these occasional memory lapses could worsen down the road.  Is there something that we can do, or take, to improve our chances of avoiding age-related memory deficits?

In his book, “The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer,” nutritionist Jonny Bowden PhD makes his case for the need to consume more antioxidants in our daily diets. Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Specifically, he recommends an eating strategy that involves consuming foods that have been tested for antioxidant power and found to be outstanding performers. Fortunately, the government has compiled a database of foods that fall into this category. It’s called the ORAC Scale.                                                             

What is the ORAC Scale?

ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and The ORAC scale is a standardized test used by the USDA to measure the Total Antioxidant Potency of foods and nutritional supplements. Thus, this test reveals a food’s true age-fighting potential. Jonny Bowden calls them “superstar foods.”

The top rated ORAC fruits are prunes, raisins, blueberries and strawberries; and the top rated ORAC Vegetables are Kale, Spinach, Yellow Squash and Brussel Sprouts. Spices such as Marjoram, Oregano, and Peppermint are winners too and should be used in your cooking as often as possible, according to Bowden.

A Prescription for Blueberries

Bowden writes that ORAC foods have a particularly powerful effect on the brain, and recommends eating one cup of blueberries three times a week for a memory boost. Personally, I eat half a cup daily for an extra boost.

“Blueberries are the ultimate memory food,” he writes. “They’re loaded with compounds that fight both oxidation and inflammation.”

He offered three other nutrition-related recommendations for boosting brain power:

Eat cold-water fish at least twice a week.

Cold-water fish such as salmon contains Omega 3s, which are particularly important for cognitive function.

Follow the Mediterranean Diet.

 This way of eating emphasizes the consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish and olive oil.

Add Turmeric to Your Food. 

If you love curry, this won’t be hard for you. Its active ingredient, curcumin, has been found to reduce oxidative damage and prevent inflammation in the brain. 

Bowden also suggested that we “shop so your grocery basket looks colorful. You’ll automatically be eating a ton of high-antioxidant (high-ORAC) foods.”

Wendy Hoffman write for Menopause, The Blog.

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About the Author

Wendy writes about women's health in midlife.