Nearly all of the Top 10 foods proven to boost brain health are at risk due to climate change
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 6:34 PM - 'Superfoods', better known as foods that make us smarter and improve our well-being, are all the rage. But in examining a list of the Top 10 suggested foods to make us stronger and smarter, an alarming number of the 10 may not be around in the future.
On Thursday, the web site EcoWatch released a list of 10 foods that improve brain health, and it definitely gave us something to think about, given that many of the foods listed are vulnerable to climate change and may disappear or be priced out of range for many consumers.
Here's a breakdown, with the threat of loss to climate change underneath.
APPLES: Studies have shown that the antioxidants found in apples can help protect against neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Climate change risk: LOW - Apples are safe for now.
ASPARAGUS: This spring vegetable contains folic acid, a nutrient that works with vitamin B12 to maintain cognitive abilities.
Climate change risk: MEDIUM - A 2014 report in the Telegraph says that Peruvian asparagus production could be limited by extreme weather events brought about by climate change. According to the Telegraph, most Peruvian asparagus is grown in the Ica Valley -- an area that's prone to droughts.
LEAN BEEF: Love beef? Well lean beef contains B12, iron and zinc -- three nutrients associated with healthy neural tissue.
Climate change risk: HIGH - A recent study in the journal Nature suggests current global corn production is estimated to be 3.8% less than what it would have been if there had been no climate change-induced weather events. That has a direct impact on livestock production, since a large percentage of corn production is used to feed cattle. And that's not all: Livestock is considered a large contributor to climate change, producing about 18% of the greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.
BERRIES: In this case (specifically) blueberries and strawberries -- are jam-packed with antioxidants. Studies show that regular consumption can help improve memory.
Climate change risk: MEDIUM - While many blueberry varieties are considered hardy and adaptable, a 2012 study by the University of Michigan found that unseasonably warm temperatures put a dent in state's blueberry industry.
DARK CHOCOLATE: No! It doesn't have to be a guilty pleasure. It contains stimulants that make us feel good and can help prolong concentration.
Climate change risk: HIGH - "Suitable regions to farm cocoa, especially in the west coast of Africa where over half of the world’s chocolate is sourced, will shrink because of higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns," writes Weather Network digital reporter Jamil Hussein. "It could push farmers to look towards other, more heat resistant and less labour intensive, crops to grow."
SALMON: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function, and seafood -- particularly salmon, is full of it.
Climate change risk: VERY HIGH - Carbon dioxide that's being released into the ocean via climate change creates an environment that inhospitable to many forms of marine life. A 2014 study suggests that many fish and crustaceans are slow to adapt to the rapid acidification of the world's oceans, elevating the risk of extinction.
OREGANO: According to Eco Watch, dried oregano is an antioxidant powerhouse that contains 40 times more antioxidants than apples.
Climate change risk: LOW - Safe for now.
WALNUTS: Protein rich and full of vitamin E, walnuts has many of the nutrients necessary to promote brain health.
Climate change risk: MEDIUM - Walnut trees require a certain amount of time in chilly conditions to produce a healthy yield, but warming temperatures could make this increasingly difficult.
WHOLE GRAINS: Like walnuts, grains contain vitamin E. That helps keep your brain -- and your skin -- healthy.
Climate change risk: LOW - Grains are safe for now.
YOGURT: The probiotics, vitamins and proteins found in yogurt can improve the communication between brain cells, according to Eco Watch.
Climate change risk: HIGH - Dairy comes from cows which, as we've already discussed, is vulnerable to climate change.
Sources: Eco Watch | The Telegraph | Nature | The David Suzuki Foundation | The Telegraph | The University of Michigan | Nature | The David Suzuki Foundation | The Weather Network UK | Climate Central | Cal-Adapt