3 Foods That Threaten Brain Health, According to a Dietitian

While this world is never in short supply of unhealthy foods, some are definitely worse than others—namely the foods you like to indulge in on the weekends or after a long day at the office. But according to registered dietitian Jamie Vespa, some foods can actually cause inflammation in the brain and speed up mental decline as you age. Vespa recently pinpointed some harmful foods in an article for Cooking Light, putting a rather depressing spotlight on some of the foods we know and love most. In her own words, here are the top three foods that negatively impact your body and your brain:


"Growing evidence seems to link saturated fat to lower cognitive function and both short- and long-term memory. Use brain-healthy olive oil instead, as diets rich in monounsaturated (and polyunsaturated) fatty acids may decrease risk of dementia. Research also indicates that swapping a portion of saturated fat in your diet with plant-based fats and whole grains may reduce your risk for heart disease."


"A concentrated source of saturated fat, full-fat dairy should be consumed sparingly, because they cause inflammation in the brain," says Vespa. "High-fat diets also lead to inflammation in other parts of the body and damage the hypothalamus area of the brain that regulates body weight."

Red Meat

"Two factors that appear to play a role in the buildup of plaques and tangles in the brain are oxidative damage by free radicals and inflammation. Fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb, processed meats like salami, sausages and the skin on chicken are rich in saturated fat, which should be limited to reduce inflammation," says Vespa.

Head over to Cooking Light for the full list of harmful foods, and share your thoughts on her picks below.