In Pictures: Foods of Chengdu Taste, Los Angeles

Chinese Sichuan Cuisine

The Restaurant

Sunday Funnies

Senior Citizens Improve Learning, Memory with Vitamin B, Omega-3

Learning and memory can be improved in senior citizens age 70 and older by vitamin B supplements, when the seniors also have a high level of omega-3 fatty acid in their blood stream, according to a study published yesterday in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, a U.K. publication.

Previous research has shown that B vitamin supplements can help slow mental decline in senior citizens with memory problems, but this works even better if your body has higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, according to this research by an international team of scientists.

The team, from the Universities of Cape Town, Oslo, Oxford and the UAE, studied more than 250 people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in Oxford. MCI is when brain function is below what is normally expected for a person’s age but is not significant enough to interfere with daily life. While it is not as serious as dementia, if untreated it often progresses to become dementia.

Vitamin B already known to prevent memory decline

The B vitamins are:

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B12
  • Folic acid

These vitamins help the process your body uses to get or make energy from the food you eat. They also help form red blood cells. You can get B vitamins from proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas also have B vitamins. Many cereals and some breads have added B vitamins.

“We previously found that B vitamins are able to slow or prevent the atrophy of the brain and memory decline in people with MCI. This was most effective in those who had above average blood levels of homocysteine, a factor related to B vitamin status that may be toxic to the brain,” said Dr. Celeste de Jager.

“Scientists in our team initially found that there was a link between Omega-3 levels, homocysteine, and brain atrophy rates. We wanted to find out whether Omega-3 and B vitamins might interact to prevent cognitive decline.’

At the start of the study, each person was given a set of tests to measure their cognition, and had a blood test to determine their levels of two Omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in oily fish: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

The participants were split into two randomly-selected groups, who received either a B vitamin (folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12)supplement or a placebo pill over two years. Their cognitive performance was also measured and the results compared with the baseline results from the start of the study.

“We found that for people with low levels of Omega-3, the vitamin supplements had little to no effect. But for those with high baseline Omega-3 levels, the B vitamins were very effective in preventing cognitive decline compared to the placebo,” said Dr Abderrahim Oulhaj.

“This result compliments our previous finding that B vitamins slow the rate of brain atrophy in MCI only in those with a good Omega-3 level to start with.”

The team also found that levels of DHA might be more important than levels of EPA, although they caution that more research must be done to establish whether this is true.

“The next stage will be to see whether providing a combination of B vitamins and Omega-3 supplements can slow the conversion from MCI to Alzheimer’s disease,” according to Professor David Smith.

“This would be an important step in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. We have high hopes that this trial would work but funding is not easy to obtain for such studies.”

Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society said, “These results help us to tease apart who could benefit from taking B vitamins, suggesting that they might only improve cognition in people who have high levels of Omega-3 oils in their blood.

“Encouragingly, these findings suggest that for some older people a combination of fish oil supplements and B vitamins may help to improve thinking and memory.

“As this study shows, the relationship between nutrition and brain health is complex and we need to see increased research efforts to help us understand the role that diet and nutrition can play in reducing a person’s risk of dementia.”

Source: Senior Journal

In Pictures: Cauliflower “Buffalo Wings”

Meatless Treats

25 Heart-healthy Cooking Tips

Limit Saturated and Trans Fat

  • Select lean cuts of beef and pork, especially cuts with “loin” or “round” in their name.
  • Cut back on processed meats high in saturated fat, such as hot dogs, salami and bacon.
  • Bake, broil, roast, stew or stir-fry lean meats, fish or poultry.
  • Drain the fat off of cooked, ground meat.
  • When you make a stew or soup, refrigerate leftovers and skim off the fat with a spoon before reheating and serving.
  • Eat fish regularly. Try different ways of cooking such as baking, broiling, grilling and poaching to add variety.
  • Include plant foods as sources of protein, including soybeans, pinto beans, lentils and nuts.
  • Replace higher-fat cheeses with lower-fat options such as reduced-fat feta and part-skim mozzarella.
  • Thicken sauces with evaporated fat-free milk instead of whole milk.
  • Move toward using lower-fat milk and yogurt. Start with 2-percent products, then move to 1-percent and finally to fat-free to adjust to the new taste.
  • Use liquid vegetable oils and soft margarine instead of stick margarine or shortening.
  • Limit trans fats often found in foods such as cakes, cookies, crackers, pastries, pies, muffins, doughnuts and French fries. Many food manufacturers have removed trans fats from their foods. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels to see if trans fats are listed.
  • Use a small amount of oils such as canola, olive and soybean in recipes and for sautéing.
  • Make salad dressings with olive, walnut or pecan oil.

Eat Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Select oils that provide omega-3 fatty acids, such as canola, flaxseed or soybean oil.
  • Add walnuts to cereal, salads or muffins. Try walnut oil in salad dressings, too.
  • Eat two 4-ounce portions of fatty fish each week, such as salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna (in water, if canned), mackerel and sardines.
  • Some chickens are given feed that is high in omega-3s so their eggs will contain more as well. When buying eggs, check the package label.

Reduce Salt (Sodium)

  • Prepare foods at home so you can control the amount of salt in your meals.
  • Use as little salt in cooking as possible. You can cut at least half the salt from most recipes.
  • Add no additional salt to food at the table.
  • Select reduced-sodium or no-salt-added canned soups and vegetables.
  • Check the Nutrition Facts of food labels for sodium and choose products with lower sodium content.
  • Season foods with herbs, spices, garlic, onions, peppers and lemon or lime juice to add flavor.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Vegetarian Tofu Soup


1 box medium-firm tofu
3 Chinese dried mushroom
40 g shredded preserved cabbage
60 g carrot, shredded


1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mushroom seasoning
1/2 tsp sesame oil


  1. Soak mushroom in cold water until softened. Cut into thin strips.
  2. Boil 4 cups water in a wok. Add mushroom, preserved vegetables and carrot. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add tofu, salt and mushroom seasoning. Cook for another minute. Mix in sesame oil. Remove and serve.

Source: Vegetarian-style Tofu

In Pictures: Clean Eating Dishes

Clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods — those that are not processed or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.

1. Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potato

2. Stir-fry Chicken with Orange and Asparagus

3. Chicken and Avocado Lettuce Wrap

4. Foil Grilled Salmon and Asparagus

5. Cajun Jambalaya

6. Buffalo Chicken Tacos

7. Oatmeal Power Bowl

8. Peanut Butter Bar