Antioxidants / Anti-Inflammatories: Build Better Cognitive Functioning and Brain Mass!

2 Apr

There is a growing body of evidence to support the overwhelming brain benefits of consuming healthy amounts of food that contain antioxidants/anti-inflammatories in your diet.  Healthy levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the blood have been linked with reduction of age related inflammation in the brain; healthier immune systems; inhibiting the progress of buildup of beta amyloids found in Alzheimer’s patients brains (Frydman-Morom et al., 2011); and increased cognitive functioning and brain mass (Bowman et al, 2012).   Not a bad benefit package for simply paying attention to what you eat!

The USDA’s research labs came up with a system to rate the antioxidant/anti-inflammatory value of foods.   There is a lot of debate surrounding this scoring system, however, you can, without question use the ORAC scoring system to find foods that might help you supplement and maximize your levels of absorbed antioxidants/anti-inflammatories – just don’t use it as your only reference and keep in mind that balance is the rule of thumb.   And yes, there is an App for that:  Antioxidants Plus.

What excites me most about this is that many wonderful spices fall in this category!  Not only are you supplying your body with what it needs to function well but you are awakening and engaging your senses!

Pick a Peck of PeppersAdd in some oregano, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, basil, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, chili powder, curcumin, or dark chocolate and you have both a power antioxidant/anti-inflammatory infusion and an enhanced sensory experience!   Throw in a few ingredients with the flavonoid luteolin – celery hearts, hot peppers, rutabagas, spinach, parsley, or thyme – to magnify the impact for your brain health.

Here is a great looking soup and salad combo from the Food Network, provided by Bobby Flay and the Mesa Grills that will “serve” you and your brain well!

Mesa Grill’s Pumpkin Soup with Mexican Cinnamon Creme Fraiche and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Spinach, Pear and Pancetta Salad

Recipe courtesy of Bobby FlayAt the Pumpkin Patch
Prep Time: — Inactive Prep Time: — Cook Time: —
Level:
Easy
Serves:
4 servings
Ingredients
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 stocks celery, coarsely chopped
7 cups vegetable stock, or water
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (not flavored pie filling)
1/4 teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon, plus 1 teaspoon (canella)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons chipotle puree
3/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish: 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Spinach, Pear and Pancetta Salad:
4 ounces pancetta, medium dice
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 ounces fresh spinach leaves
2 Bosc pears, halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, finely sliced
Directions
Heat the butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook until soft. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain the stock into a clean medium saucepan and whisk in the pumpkin puree until smooth. Bring to a simmer and add the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, spices, honey and chipotle. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add water, if the soup is too thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of the creme fraiche and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix together the remaining creme fraiche and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon until combined. Divide the soup among 4 bowls and garnish with the cinnamon creme fraiche and a handful of pumpkin seeds.

For the Spinach, Pear and Pancetta Salad: Saute pancetta in skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings out. Add shallots and cook until soft. Add vinegar, mustard and thyme; whisk to blend. Add oil and whisk to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. Combine spinach, pears, red onion and pancetta in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat.
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/recipe_print/0,1946,FOOD_9936_9430_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html?oc=linkback

Next week, vitamins D and E’s role in brain health!

Do you have any exciting recipes that highlight spices?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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