Try These Whole-Grain Salads To Improve Your Cognitive Health

Sunrise Senior Living  |  June 20, 2016

A healthy diet that includes all major food groups isn't just good for the body, it's also great for the mind. According to the National Institute on Aging, a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains is highly beneficial to brain health. Other carbohydrates, such as refined sugar, have the opposite effect.

When it comes to forming a senior nutrition plan, it's critical to lower the intake of simple carbohydrates and focus on getting complex carbs, like those found in whole grains. Check out these tasty whole-grain salads for some nutritious appetizer ideas.

Barley Salad
Barley is a great ingredient because it's filling and full of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Adding it to a salad is an excellent way to fulfill your daily carb requirements.


  • 1 cup barley kernels
  • 16 oz. artichoke hearts
  • 2/3 cup pepperoncini, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup black olives, chopped
  • 3/4 cup bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Prepare the barley according to the instructions on the container it came in. If there is any water remaining, pour it off and let the barley cool. Then transfer the barley to a large mixing bowl and combine with the artichokes, pepperoncini, parmesan cheese, olives, bell peppers and parsley. Toss with a pair of salad tongs, then lightly cover with the dressing of your choice.

Farro Salad
Farro is not the most common way to consume whole grains, but that's what makes this recipe unique. Adding farro to a regular vegetable salad gives it a slight crunch and a lot of nutrients.


  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup farro
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • Balsamic vinegar for dressing

Heat your oven to 400 F. In a mixing bowl, combine the carrots, onions, garlic and tomatoes. Toss the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place the coated vegetables on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Toss on a bit more oil, and cook for another 5 minutes. While the vegetables are baking, prepare the farro according to the directions on the package. Return the vegetables to the mixing bowl, combine with the farro and sprinkle on some parsley, the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.

Rice and Sprouts Salad
Not only is brown rice more nutritious than white rice, it has a lot of extra flavor. This salad can be divided into small appetizers or eaten as a main course.


  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sprouts
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup brown rice

Prepare the brown rice according to the package. Using a blender or food processor, combine the lemon juice, chives, olive oil and salt until it forms a thin paste. Strain the mixture into a small bowl through a sieve or piece of cheesecloth. Boil the sprouts for about 5 minutes, or until tender, then remove them from the heat and let sit for another 3 minutes. Drain them, then rinse under cold water until completely cool. Transfer sprouts to a mixing bowl and add  the scallions, zucchini, rice and chive mixture. Toss before serving.