#1 Deep-coloured fruit and veg
Because your brain burns so much oxygen, its a prime target of free radicals, says medical journalist Jean Carper. Antioxidants slow mental decline and help prevent your brain from age-related disease. And fruit and veg are powerful antioxidant warriors – choose those with deep colour, such as plums, figs, red lettuce, avocados and spinach.

#2 Apple juice
Researchers believe apple juice may mimic drugs that shield against brain disease. “Apple juice hypes acetylcholine by supplying antioxidants, mainly quercetin, that prevent damage to neurons by free radicals” writes Carper, explaining the findings of University of Massachusetts scientist cellular biologist Thomas Shea, PhD.

#3 Berries
Even small amounts of berries keep your memory intact, says Carper. And according to researchers at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, older women who ate strawberries once a fortnight slowed their cognitive decline by 16 per cent.

#4 Vitamin D
An increasing number of studies reveal that when your vitamin D levels are low, brain health may suffer. One such report published in Neurology late last year suggests that weekly intake of less than 35 mcg is linked with a greater incidence of cognitive impairment. As Nathan Gray writes for NutraIngredients.com, “It is suggested that Vitamin D binds to neuronal receptors in the brain, and develops an anti-neurodegenerative action,” – one that may be anti-inflammatory and antioxidative.

#5 Vitamin E
Similarly, Vitamin E is receiving attention as a potential brain shield. In a study published in the Archive of Neurology, subjects who consumed the highest amounts of the vitamin were 25 per cent less likely to develop an age-related brain condition that those with the lowest average consumption. Vitamin E, say scientists from the Netherlands Eramus Medical Center, may exert an antioxidant effect which counters the oxidative stress induced by a build up of the protein beta-amyloid – which can damage brain cells.

#6 Iron
When youre low in iron your attention span drops, youre less emotionally responsive and you show poorer cognitive performance, says Stephen Pincock, author of Get Smart: 100 Lifestyle Choices That Affect Your Brainpower. The good news: a deficiency is easily treated. See a healthcare professional if you suspect youre running low on iron, and top on natural sources such as red meat, poultry, oysters, fish and spinach. And vitamin C aids your bodys ability to absorb iron, so combine foods with both nutrients when you can! Tip: caffeine reduces your ability to absorb iron, so dont team a coffee with your rump steak.

Andrew Cate is a university qualified exercise physiologist, food coach and author of five books on weight control. Andrew’s latest book “Walk Off Weight” includes an eight week food and exercise plan, with tasty recipes and meal plan ideas. For more information visit www.andrewcate.com