Whether you’re cooking your favorite recipe or eating raw foods, fresh fruits and vegetables will benefit your brain. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals. When you eat foods that are highly nutritious, you help to strengthen your immune system. That, in turn, helps your body to fight infection and disease.
Many fruits and vegetables are high in Vitamins C and E. These vitamins act as antioxidants. Antioxidants are important because they work against the process of oxidation in your body. During oxidation, molecules called free radicals are formed. Free radicals can damage your body’s cells and even cause cells to die.
In your brain, a large number of free radicals are created when dopamine is metabolized. With a disease such as Parkinson’s, people have lowered amounts of dopamine in their brains, so the damage caused by these free radicals can worsen the condition. The cell damage and cell death caused by free radicals can also lead to heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.
Although researchers haven’t established exactly how it happens, the antioxidants in berries, citrus fruits, and apples seem to be particularly beneficial for your brain. In particular, these foods can help people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you eat vegetables and fruits in a rainbow of colors in order to take in a variety of nutrients. For example, take in Vitamin A from greens such as turnip, kale, mustard, and collard, and orange fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. Get loads of Vitamin C from red tomatoes, strawberries, green Brussels sprouts and broccoli, and white cauliflower.
When you’re cooking vegetables, keep in mind that removing skin and seeds can also remove some of the vitamins and minerals. Peeling away potato skins removes nutrients, as well as fiber. Although fiber doesn’t directly affect your brain, it helps to keep your digestive system functioning smoothly. Good overall nutrition is essential for a healthy body and brain. Look for recipes that use lightly-steamed vegetables, include edible skins, or that incorporate juicing entire fruits and vegetables.
Whenever possible, buy organic fruits and vegetables. In one study, researchers found that eating apples might contribute to developing Parkinson’s disease. They noted, though, that the link wasn’t clear, and that the negative effects could be due to herbicides and pesticides used in growing the apples. They also noted that the nutrition you gain from eating apples far outweighs any such risks. Minimize those risks by choosing fruits and vegetables that have been grown without the use of chemicals.
When you eat raw fruits and vegetables, or use them when you’re cooking your favorite recipes, you give your brain, and your whole body, a healthy boost.