With dementia rates expected to soar in coming decades as Canada's population gets older, a nutrition and cognitive scientist with the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences has cooked up a strategy to help people maintain good brain health.
Dr. Carol Greenwood, a senior scientist and Canada's leading professor of nutrition and brain health, has teamed up with Daphna Rabinovitch, an award-winning recipe developer and food writer, and Joanna Gryfe, a food and media expert, to create the world's first science-based cookbook for the brain.
Available only as an e-book, Mindfull provides a 300-page feast of consumer-friendly information on the science of nutrition and brain health, what this means in terms of eating to promote a healthy brain, plus 100 delicious recipe ideas to fire up your synapses! Celebrity Canadian chefs from coast to coast, including Michael Smith, Mark McEwan and Dale Mackay, as well as Laureen Harper, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, contributed recipes for the book.
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 60% of Alzheimer's diagnoses are attributed to lifestyle choices. Poor eating habits and a lack of physical and intellectual stimulation are stronger drivers for dementia than genetics alone.
"We know that diet is an important predictor of how well our brain ages and that people who have better quality diets have greater preservation of their brain function with aging," says Dr. Greenwood. In the book, she debunks myths about nutrition, tells us what to eat to promote optimal brain health and healthy aging, and provides useful tips on how to boost our cognitive function at times of the day when we are feeling low – always ensuring that her advice can be easily adapted by the busy home cook.
"The recipes we developed for this book were of course inspired by very particular food choices, but just as importantly by many global and ethnic cuisines, making the recipes exciting and diverse," says Rabinovitch.
"Health eating, as the book brings to life, has never been more delectable, gratifying and energizing."
The cookbook covers breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks, appetizers and desserts. From Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes with Ricotta Topping for a lazy weekend breakfast, to great ideas for on-the-go quick meals, healthy sandwiches, soups, meat, vegetarian, pasta and fish dishes, there is a variety of brain healthy recipes to choose from.
Before the weekly grocery run, readers can skim the handy reference chart of foods that are rich in brain-healthy nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, fibre, folate and Vitamin B12, polyphenols and mono-unsaturated fats. The book lists many spices and herbs which are also thought to have brain-protective compounds and can be used to enhance the flavor of what we eat.
For people-on-the-go who don't have time to eat nutritious meals, Dr. Greenwood has this advice: "There are a number of recipes in the book that you can make in less than 15 minutes. It really starts with your selection of foods when you're in the grocery store. Look for fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains that can be easily incorporated into salads, for example. These are quick and nutritious meals."
The e-cookbook is available as a $9.99 download from e-book retailers iTunes, Amazon, Kobo and coming soon on Google Play. Mindfull was conceived by Women of Baycrest volunteers, and supported by the Baycrest Foundation and Cogniciti Inc. Proceeds from the sale of the e-book will support Baycrest programs and services that promote excellence and innovations in aging and brain health.