Munch On This Trail Mix to Boost Brain Power

Sunrise Senior Living  |  June 23, 2014

Whether you prefer salty treats or sweet eats, trail mix is the perfect dish, as it combines a number of different tastes in one transportable snack. This savory selection is not only an ideal choice for seniors on-the-go, but it can feature several ingredients ideal for increasing cognitive health.

Carry it to the park, bring it to the book club or use it to become the talk of the retirement community, but be sure to include these brain-boosting treats in your trail mix:

Build your base 
Depending on personal preferences, the core of your creation may differ. Even if you don't choose to make these ingredients the highlight of your dish, consider adding them to the pot:

  • Nuts: Walnuts, peanuts and almonds have all been linked to improved memory, according to Health.com. Whether you choose to roast them, salt them or throw them in raw, nuts are the ideal choice for a cognitive-focused base.
  • Cereal: Whole-grain cereals, such as Cheerios, Chex or bran, can provide a nice crunch to the mix. Fiber is key for bolstering overall physical health, including staving off heart disease and stroke. 
  • Popcorn: While this choice may seem unhealthy to some, nutritionists agree that popcorn is actually one of the healthiest foods on the market - as long as you eat it plain. Don't reach for the microwave pouch, but use a pan and small bit of extra-virgin olive oil to pop your own kernels. These puffs are an excellent source of whole grain, fiber and B vitamins. 

Choose your additions
Once you've selected the best base ingredients, it's time to toss in your toppings. Try to balance sweet and salty flavors when creating your concoction, as you don't want one flavor to outshine the others.

  • Dark chocolate: If you're baking this snack for those with a sweet tooth - such as grandchildren or chocolate enthusiasts - consider sprinkling a light amount of chocolate into the mix. Be sure to go for dark chocolate, though, as this treat is replete with nutrients that can help prevent strokes and increase blood flow to the brain, FitDay reported.
  • Dried fruits: Berries are an excellent source of nutrients for cognitive health. Several studies have been published that connect these fruits to higher memory function and a lower chance for developing Alzheimer's disease. Dried cranberries and blueberries are perfect options. 
  • Seeds: Sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds contain oils, proteins and fatty acids that help boost brain function. Even if you only add a pinch, be sure to take advantage of these powerful picks when finishing your mix.

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