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5 Nutrients That Might Stop Alzheimer’s — and Foods Rich in Them

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Eating the right vegetables and fruits might lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study out of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

The study found that in the brains of people who had Alzheimer’s disease, levels of five key nutrients were only around half the levels found in those with healthy brains. The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Of note, the study was conducted on actual human brains. The study subjects had donated their brains to the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. These donors, who had died recently, were in their mid- to late-70s at the time of their deaths, on average.

Following are the antioxidants found in “significantly lower” levels in the brains of these subjects compared with the healthy brains, according to the study.

Lutein

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Not only is lutein good for your brain, but it also boosts eye health and has other health benefits, as we reported in “3 Antioxidants Linked to Lower Dementia Risk.”

You can get lutein in green, leafy vegetables and other foods, such as:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Fresh parsley
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Green peas
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Summer squash

Zeaxanthin

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As with lutein, zeaxanthin boosts eye health and is believed to lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. The antioxidant also might boost heart health in addition to protecting you from Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources of zeaxanthin include:

  • Yellow corn
  • Orange pepper
  • Orange juice
  • Honeydew melon
  • Mango

Retinol

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Retinol is a form of vitamin A, which can improve eye health and boost both the production and activity of white blood cells.

Breakfast cereals, juices, dairy products and other foods are often fortified with retinol. You will also find vitamin A in:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Orange and yellow vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Red bell pepper
  • Cantaloupe and mango
  • Beef liver
  • Fish oils
  • Milk
  • Eggs

Lycopene

There's nothing like a watermelon from the picnic basket in a hot day.
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Lycopene helps to put red and pink color in foods such as tomatoes and pink grapefruit.

It is possible that lycopene might also help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Other foods rich in lycopene include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Apricots
  • Melons
  • Papayas
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Watermelons
  • Cranberries

Alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E)

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Alpha-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E. In addition to protecting your brain, vitamin E boosts your immune system and helps prevent clots in heart arteries.

Foods rich in vitamin E include:

  • Wheat germ oil
  • Sunflower, safflower and soybean oil
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Beet greens, collard greens and spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell pepper
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Avocados

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