Cruciferous vegetables–like broccoli–have proven brain health benefits. In a very large study in women in their 60s, researchers found that those who ate more leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables–like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts–showed less decline in memory, attention, and verbal abilities than women who ate less of those foods.
Onions are rich in the antioxidant quercetin, which has been shown to protect against ischemic brain damage (a type of stroke) and may improve impaired memory. Quercetin has also been implicated as a potential anti-depressant.
Olive oil is rich in polyphenols, a group of easily-absorbed chemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A diet rich in polyphenols may suppress the onset of Alzheimer’s by preventing oxidative damage, and because they chelate metals, their routine use may also be protective against the onset of Alzheimer’s. Olive oil is also a good source of vitamin E, which has been shown to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and which is generally associated with less age-related cognitive decline. Several observational studies on the brain benefits of the Mediterranean diet position olive oil consumption as one of the most important factors.
This is a super easy but tasty recipe that features both broccoli and onions, roasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil and some parmesan cheese. It’s a great side dish for meat, chicken, or fish.
For more recipes with brain healthy ingredients, including cruciferous vegetables, olive oil, and onions, check out our brain healthy recipe archive, see our list of brain healthy foods and ingredients, or browse a list of helpful articles about food and the brain.
RECIPE FOR BRAIN HEALTH: Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions with Parmesan
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1 small red onion, cut into wedges
- 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with a sheet of foil or parchment paper.
- Put broccoli and onions in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and cheese. Mix together well to evenly coat vegetables.
- Pour broccoli and onions onto baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Cook for 10 minutes and stir. Cook another 15 minutes or until broccoli is tender and lightly charred.
- Serve immediately.