Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine clinical researcher Neal Barnard, M.D., has completed research indicating that plant-based foods boost the immune system and brain health.
He found that fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes form a protective vitamin shield around your brain, which can delay the aging process and help prevent Alzheimer's disease, he says.
His new book, "Power Foods for the Brain" offers recipes aimed to strengthen memory and help prevent common brain disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer's isease.
Here are few recipes that are featured in the book:
Grilled Eggplant Niçoise
Recipe by Jason Wyrick
This simple Mediterranean sandwich makes an elegant lunch or a late-afternoon dinner.
4 cloves garlic
1 large eggplant, sliced into thick slabs
Juice of 4 lemons (about ½ cup)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon dried lavender
1/2 teaspoon saffron
4 large slices French bread or sourdough bread, toasted
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup sliced pitted Niçoise olives or green olives
Smash the garlic and rub each slab of eggplant with the garlic. Place the eggplant in a shallow bowl and pour the lemon juice over it. Add enough water to submerge the eggplant. Allow the eggplant to marinate for at least 1 hour, then drain and place it in a shallow dish. Add the garlic, pepper, lavender, and saffron and let it sit for about 1 hour.
Place the eggplant directly on a grill over medium heat and cook until it is soft on both sides but not charred. Place a grilled slab of eggplant on a slice of bread and top with a couple slices of fennel and tomatoes and about 1 tablespoon sliced olives. This sandwich is served open-faced. Serves 4
Per serving (1 sandwich): 154 calories, 7 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 9 g sugar, 2 g total fat, 9% calories from fat, 10 g fiber, 478 mg sodium
Dr. Barnard's brain-boosting tip: Opt for foods low in fat and high in nutrients. Saturated and trans fats can more than double your risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Minted Fruit Kebabs
Recipe by Christine Waltermyer
Fresh fruit makes a striking appearance in these antioxidant-rich kebabs. Enjoy them for a refreshing, light dessert.
8 red or green grapes
4 large strawberries
4 1-inch-square cantaloupe chunks
4 1-inch-square honeydew chunks
4 1/2-inch-thick slices peeled kiwi
4 1-inch-square watermelon chunks
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 10-inch bamboo skewers
Thread 1 grape, 1 strawberry, 1 cantaloupe chunk, 1 honeydew chunk, 1 slice kiwi, 1 watermelon chunk, and 1 more grape onto a skewer. Repeat with the remaining fruit and skewers. Place the finished skewers in a shallow container.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, mint and vanilla. Pour the marinade over the fruit kebabs, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours) in the refrigerator before serving.
Makes 4 kebabs (4 servings)
Per serving (1 kebab): 35 calories, 0.6 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 7 g sugar, 0.2 g total fat, 5% calories from fat, 1 g fiber, 5 mg sodium.
Dr. Barnard's brain-boosting tip: Power up with blueberries and grapes. These "brain berries" get their deep colors from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants shown to improve learning and recall in studies at the University of Cincinnati
Recipe by Jason Wyrick
The colors and textures will seduce you even before you taste this salad's sweet, cooling flavors. Because the flavor gets even better with time, it's perfectly portable.
1/2 red onion, diced
1 Mexican gray squash or zucchini, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 small tomatoes, diced (and seeded if you like)
1/4 cup sliced red cabbage
2 stalks celery, sliced
Kernels from 2 ears corn (about 1 ½ cups)
Pinch of sea salt
Juice of 1 small lime (about 1 tablespoon)
Optional: 3 tomatillos, diced; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro; 1 cup rinsed cooked or canned red beans or 1 cup sautéed tempeh; 1 cup sliced Swiss chard leaves
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and allow the salad to marinate for at least 30 minutes but preferably 2 hours. You can forgo this step and eat the salad right away, though the flavors won't be melded quite as much.
Options: If you use the tomatillos, peel away the papery part and make sure to wash them before cutting; this removes their sticky outer film and makes them much easier to handle. You can also use frozen corn in this recipe, though it will lack the crispness and sweetness of fresh corn. Want to make this a meal in itself instead of an accompaniment? Add the beans or tempeh and you'll have a delicious dinner in minutes.
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish
Per serving ( 1/2 of recipe): 159 calories, 4 g protein, 36 g carbohydrate, 12 g sugar, 2 g total fat, 32% calories from fat, 7 g fiber, 246 mg sodium
Dr. Barnard's brain-boosting tip: The more naturally colorful your meal is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of immune-boosting antioxidants and phytochemicals. The same foods that are good for your heart are good for your brain.