Food for brain-healthy thought — and Happy 4th of July Picnic to you

Ketchup alongside French fried potatoes
Image via Wikipedia

Just when you start thinking hot dogs, french fries and toasted marshmallows for the summer, along come other viewpoints. But this space is all about dialog.

Reader Cato, in response to the alcohol cause-for-harm tax referenced below, suggests a fat tax — which would surely tax the enjoyment of your 4th of July potato salad and homemade ice cream. More useful is a new feature just instituted over at the Posit Science folks’ blog site: Brain Healthy Recipes.  French fried potatoes need not apply.

But as it turns out, there are plenty of foods — spinach, nuts, garlic (!), carrots and more — that can shape up your brain. Research has shown, says blogger Marghi Merzenich, that foods containing certain nutrients can boost memory, alertness, and have other benefits for brain health.

As it further turns out, a lot of brain-healthy items make pretty tasty dishes. Over at the Amen Clinic site (that’s Daniel G. Amen, MD, certainly a fine name for a brainy doctor) you can find recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner including Dorie’s Truly Amazing Lamb, Beans and Rice, or the Homemade Turkey Jerky which Dr. Amen professes to eat all the time when he’s writing. He’s got a LOT more published books than this writer, so perhaps I should whip up a little turkey jerky.

The EatingWell folks also have an assortment of brain-healthy recipes, plus menus in groups beginning with prenatal and extending through geezer.

Some of these even fall within my three basic food groups: caffeine, ice cream and chocolate — or at the least, allow a dollop of espresso. Hope your picnic is a merry, and brain-healthy time.


  1. And… we can still hope that the teasing out of secrets of the brain keeps pace with the lengthening out of our lifespans. I like your Huffington postings, Tim. Thanks for surfing over here.

  2. I won’t comment on the efficacy of these notions. They may be true for all I know.

    However, for an interesting perspective, take note of how previous generations characterized good eating, what they said, and what claims they made regarding those foods. My question: what makes these claims different from those of previous generations?

    1. Here’s what my mama taught me: If it looks pretty on the plate (picnic or otherwise) everything’s fine: something green, something yellow, something white, something meaty to chew on; if it came out of the then-pristine Chesapeake Bay it was brain food. Worked for me for three quarters of a healthy century & the brain still functions okay — but I figure these folks have some good ideas so I try to pay attention. Thanks & Happy Holiday, Jake.

    2. That’s a good question Jake. One difference is the increased understanding that comes from accumulated research. As our knowledge of how the body works grows, we’ve found some food to be healthier or unhealthier than we originally thought. Sometimes our stance on different foods must be revised several times – the body is, after all, a very complex machine, and we’ve only just begun to tease out its secrets.

      But begun we have, and you have only to look at the steady upward march in life expectancy for the past 50 years to know that we’re having an effect.


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