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Good for your heart, good for your brain: A diet swap for your memory

Dr. Roshini Raj, Health magazine's contributing medical editor, shared simple, healthful tips for boosting our memories.
/ Source: TODAY

Feeling forgetful? Don’t fret.

Dr. Roshini Raj, Health magazine’s contributing medical editor, shared simple, healthful tips for boosting our memory.


Fatty fish like salmon are rich in an omega-3 called DHA. “DHA, in particular, is great for the brain,” Raj said. “Studies show it improved cognition and memory, so get your salmon.”

2. Leafy greens

Spinach, kale or any vibrant green vegetable should be helpful. They have lutein, beta carotene, folate and vitamin K. “Women who consumed one to two cups actually, their brains were 11 years younger than those who didn’t, when it came to cognition and memory,” Raj said.

3. Healthy fats

Anything that is heart-healthy is also good for your brain, Raj said, because the blood vessels in the brain are important in terms of cognition and memory. “Get a handful of nuts,” she said. “Be careful, it has some fat in it so if you’re watching your waistline, not too many.

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Also, try olive oil, which has oleocanthal, another compound that is great for your brain. Research shows it may help reduce the buildup in the brain of amyloid proteins, which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

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4. Mostly mozart

Pump up the music, especially classical pieces, or any music that is familiar to you and that you enjoy, to help with memory. One study showed that classical music helped with cognition and memory testing.

5. LOL

Do something that makes you laugh. In one study, older people who watched a funny video performed better on tests. “Twenty minutes of something that’s going to make you laugh,” Raj said, “it’s going to help.”

6. Meditate

MRI tests performed on people who meditate found positive changes in the brain, including in the memory center, Raj said. To get started, try the 7-7-7 rule: Take 7 seconds to breathe in, 7 seconds to hold the breath, and 7 seconds to release it.

7. Don’t despair

While some people hear that memory starts to decline at age 20, there are certain parts of our memory that can improve with age. Crystallized intelligence, which is the ability to integrate your experience, skills and knowledge, can peak as late as your 60s or 70s. “All hope is not lost,” Raj joked.

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8. Spell it out

If you can’t seem to remember the name of someone you just met, Raj says to spell it in your head three times. Before that, though, pay attention!

“A lot of us aren’t even listening the first time,” she said, “and that’s why we don’t remember.”

Lisa A. Flam, a regular contributor to, is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter.