Applications are open now for the AARP Purpose Prize, which honors people 50+ who tap into life experience to build a better future. Find out more.
The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) examined the state of science on the impact diet has on brain health in adults age 50 and older. GCBH experts carefully considered what can be confidently concluded about whether and how dietary patterns and food choices influence brain health. The new report provides specific recommendations on which foods to encourage, include or limit in adults’ diets. The GCBH gives people 12 practical tips to incorporate healthy eating habits to help maintain brain health.
The news may surprise those who drink wine and coffee or nibble chocolate because they have heard these things are good for their brain. The GCBH experts report that any benefit is unclear because there is no scientific consensus that incorporating these popular food and drinks are beneficial to one’s brain health. So what should you eat? A heart-healthy diet is also a brain-healthy diet. The GCBH found that a plant-based diet rich in green leafy vegetables and berries contributes to better brain health, while a diet high in red meat, saturated fats, sugar and salt can harm your brain health. Instead, choose a variety of fruits and vegetables and healthy grains; while you swap out butter and red meats for more olive oil and omega-3 rich fish.
To complement the GCBH’s report, AARP surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 adults age 40 and older to understand the relationship between their eating habits and their mental well-being and brain health. The survey identifies what older Americans say they are eating now, their willingness to eat a healthier diet when they know it can impact their brain and the barriers preventing them from eating healthier choices. Survey results can be found in the section below.
As a result of these deliberations, the GCBH Governance Committee approved the following recommendations on nutrition and brain health for people as they age.
To find out more about healthy eating for your brain, see this article by Victoria Sackett.
Download the Recommendations
Download the Recommendations (Spanish)
Eating right is important for heart and brain health. Available in Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish translations.
Click image to view full PDF
The more servings of fruits/vegetables consumed in a typical day, the better the brain health, overall health, and mental well-being. Learn more
LAWRENCE APPEL, M.D., MPH
Johns Hopkins University, USA
GIOVAMBATTISTA DESIDERI, M.D.
University of L’Aquila, Italy
PRESTON ESTEP, PH.D.
Veritas Genetics, USA
JOSÉ A. LUCHSINGER, M.D., MPH
Columbia University, USA
STEFANI MAGGI, M.D., MPH, PH.D.
National Research Council, Italy
SIMIN MEYDANI, D.V.M, PH.D.
Tufts University, USA
OLIVIA OKEREKE, M.D., M.S.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, USA
IRWIN ROSENBERG, M.D.
NIKOLAOS SCARMEAS, M.D.
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece; Columbia University, USA
ARON TROEN, DPHIL.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
JEAN WOO, M.D.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Global Council on Brain Health. Brain Food: GCBH Recommendations on Nourishing Your Brain Health. Washington, DC: Global Council on Brain Health, January 2018. https://doi.org/10.26419/pia.00019.001
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at