This brain-boosting Ahi Tuna Spinach Avocado Pesto Sandwich is packed with antioxidants and anti-flammatory ingredients, made in hopes of preventing Alzheimer’s Disease through the foods we eat.
Recently, I’ve been reading about the healthy benefits of the Mediterranean Diet (a 30% reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events) as well as the connection between what we eat and epigenetics (read more about this in my post on The Longevity Kitchen). I find the topic of Food As Medicine fascinating.
So, when I received a review copy of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook written by Dr. Marwan Sabbagh and Chef Beau MacMillan, I was curious what Dr. Sabbagh had to say – are there really foods that we can eat to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease? Many of you probably know someone who has been afflicted by Alzheimer’s Disease.
There are currently 5.4 million people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States, and by mid-century there are expected to be some 16 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s at a cost of $1 trillion a year. Worldwide, there are an estimated 27 million people with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 60. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people.
Although treatment can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and help manage symptoms in some people, currently there is no cure for this devastating disease. Most people with Alzheimer’s disease have “late-onset” Alzheimer’s, which usually develops after age 60.
Alzheimer’s Disease is believed to develop because of a complex series of events that take place in the brain over a long period of time (20 years before symptoms occur). It is likely that the causes include some mix of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
Research suggests that a host of factors beyond basic genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimer’s disease, e.g., heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. New research suggests the possibility that a nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement and mentally stimulating pursuits, and other factors also might help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Although there are unmodifiable risk factors (e.g., age, genetic influences, female gender), there are also modifiable risk factors (such as hypertension, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity) that can be mitigated through the foods you eat.
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s Disease today, but eating better when you’re in your 30’s through your 60’s might help your brain work better and help stave off Alzheimer’s Disease. The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook is all about prevention and risk reduction. The information in this book is based on Dr. Sabbagh’s critical review of various studies and published literature on this topic. Currently, there are no general guidelines for diet that might prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, so Dr. Sabbagh’s book is an attempt to provide some guidelines that people can follow. His guidelines follow closely with the Mediterranean Diet.
The idea is to treat your brain right while you’re still healthy. And, unlike medication, healthy foods are available to everyone at minimal expense and have no negative effects. The 100 recipes in The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook reflect Chef Beau MacMillan’s (executive chef of Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain) culinary interpretation of ingredients that could prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, packed with antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory foods (from a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, grains, and spices), foods rich in omega-3’s (fatty fish) and low in saturated fat.
Although more scientific studies need to be done, why wait to change your food choices and lifestyle? The same foods that could prevent Alzheimer’s Disease will also help reduce susceptibility to inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The Mediterranean Diet has been proven to substantially reduce the risk of heart disease, and it may help prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. So, why not start today?
Today, I’m sharing a brain-boosting recipe for Ahi Tuna Spinach Avocado Pesto Sandwich, based on a recipe from The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook. I’ve put my own twist on this sandwich, but you’ll get the idea – this recipe is packed with omega-3 rich tuna, polyphenol-rich spinach, and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil).
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ avocado, cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup fresh sashimi-grade ahi tuna, cut into small dice
- ½ teaspoon gluten-free soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons Spinach Avocado Pesto
- 4 slices whole grain bread
- Place spinach, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil in food processor and process until finely ground. Add avocado and lime juice and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a small bowl, toss together tuna, soy sauce, sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of Spinach Avocado Pesto. Spread remaining 2 tablespoons Spinach Avocado Pesto on bread slices. Spoon tuna mixture on top of 2 bread slices. Cover with remaining bread slices.
Interview with Dr. Marwan Sabbagh
National Institute on Aging – Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s Basics