Your Recipe for Improved Memory

You may have heard of salmon and blueberries being referred to as "brain foods" for their specific properties that keep the brain healthy. Now a new study proves that certain vegetables qualify as brain foods as well.

Veggies--specifically crunchy, colorful ones such as celery, peppers, and carrots--contain a plant compound called luteolin, which works to tamp down inflammation in the brain that causes problems with memory.

The result? People who eat luteolin-rich foods may avoid the memory problems that often go hand in hand with aging.

For about a decade, scientists at the University of Illinois have been studying luteolin and similar compounds and their anti-inflammatory properties in the body.

Their latest study, carried out on mice, offers proof of the mechanism by which luteolin actually works its miracles in the brain. We carry cells in our brains and spinal cords known as microglial cells. When faced with an infection in the body, these cells produce molecules called cytokines that are inflammatory and cause changes in the brain, including loss of memory.

The normal process of aging also can cause these microglial cells to begin producing cytokines that can disrupt memory. But foods containing high levels of luteolin appear to prevent the microglial cells from producing excesses of neuron-killing cytokines. When fed a diet supplemented with luteolin for four weeks, the mice in the study showed greater ability on learning and memory tasks than their peers who were fed a control diet, and they had lower levels of cytokines in their brains.

How can you get luteolin into your diet? Eating nutritious foods such as celery, peppers, and carrots, which have high levels of luteolin, appears to prevent the microglial cells from producing a lot of cytokines. Other foods such as olive oil, peppermint, rosemary, and chamomile have the same effect. So try this easy and mouth-watering memory-boosting meal the next time you're in the kitchen: 

  • Large bed of greens
  • Diced celery, carrots, and red or green peppers
  • Few ounces of lean protein, such as turkey, chicken, or shrimp
  • Olive oil and vinegar
  • Handful of fresh rosemary
  • Finish with a steaming mug of chamomile or peppermint tea, then enjoy the daily crossword or word puzzle for an additional brain workout!


University of Illinois,