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Brain Food for Older Adults

By: Brittany Wood, RDN and Kelsey Guth, RDN

Loss of brain function is believed to be a natural consequence of aging. However, it has been shown that B-complex vitamins are helpful and healthy for the human brain. A diet with a higher intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and legumes can contribute to a sharper brain. In addition, having a lower intake of high-fat dairy, processed meat, and sweets can also contribute to brain health. Beans are an excellent source of many B vitamins and are readily available and easy to incorporate into meals. Many wheat and rice products are also enriched with many B vitamins.

Want to boost your vitamin B intake? These meal options are rich in B vitamins:

  • Soups and Stews: These meals can be nutrient dense. Try adding beans, lentils, and vegetables such as bell peppers, turnip and mustard greens, spinach, and broccoli to a vegetable stock.
  • Beans and vegetables in common dishes: incorporate beans into salads, Mexican dishes, and other ethnic cuisine.
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, which could be beneficial for brain health.
  • Tea: antioxidants found in tea may help maintain brain function.

Recipe Feature: Bean Salad

2 cans kidney beans

2 cans black beans

2 cans chickpeas

1 medium onion

½ c fresh cilantro

2 cartons of cherry or grape tomatoes

½ c olive oil

½ c balsamic vinegar

Dash of salt and pepper


  1. Wash and cut tomatoes in halves.
  2. Drain beans with water.
  3. Chop onion and cilantro finely.
  4. Prepare and mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt/pepper in a separate bowl.
  5. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and pour dressing over beans and mix in well.
  6. Refrigerate and cover for 2 hours before serving.

Kelsey Guth and Brittany Wood are Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for Medical Facilities of America.