Nutrition is big news these days and for good reason. It’s a powerful component of a healthy lifestyle from cardiovascular health to reduced risk of cancer to hearing health. It’s not just health experts and researchers that are tuned into the benefits of nutritious foods either. According to the most recent survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC), “Almost all consumers (96 percent) seek out health benefits from what they eat and drink.” Unfortunately, this comprehensive annual survey also found that “out of those, only 45 percent could identify a single food or nutrient associated with those benefits.”
Cardiovascular health and reduced risk of cancer are often top of mind when it comes to foods and their health benefits, but that’s not all. There are also certain foods that can help support the health of your hearing now and long into the future. Here’s what you need to know to find the foods that can benefit your hearing.
In general, a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats in recommended amounts can help support hearing health as well as total health. In fact, studies have linked a healthy diet and general health to hearing health. Experts involved in these studies believe this is the case because the complex workings of the ear responsible for hearing rely on such things as healthy blood flow (cardiovascular health) and reduced inflammation in the body to function at their best.
It’s not just a healthy total diet that has been linked to hearing health either. Recent studies have delved into the ability of specific vitamins, minerals and other parts of our diets that may directly help hearing and prevent hearing loss. While research on the topic is still in its infancy, folate and omega 3’s are proving again and again that they may be a valuable tool in maintaining healthy hearing.
Researchers worked with over 3,000 people in the Blue Mountains Hearing Study and found that a folate deficiency causes homocysteine levels to increase, potentially restricting blood flow to the cochlea—the part of the ear that converts sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain. The study concluded that this common deficiency could be responsible for age-related hearing loss in many cases. It wasn’t just folate that researchers studied. The study also determined that fish in the diet, rich in omega 3 fatty acids, was also linked to hearing loss. Those that ate several servings per week were less likely to become hearing impaired over time.
The good news is, folate and omega 3’s are not hard to add to your diet if you know which foods to choose. Here are just some of the best foods to add to your diet for healthier hearing:
- Spinach – toss it in your salad, sandwich or morning eggs
- Black-eyed peas – add them to soup or try a salad recipe like this
- Fortified breakfast cereal – have this on hand for busy mornings
- Rice – makes an easy side or get creative and toss it in a salad
- Asparagus – grill it, bake it, broil it or steam it for a quick and flavorful side
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil – use a dash of oil for cooking and toss ground flaxseed into muffins, oatmeal or even as a meal garnish for added nutrition
- Chia seeds – like flaxseed, these can be tossed into a variety of foods for a boost
- Salmon – sandwiches, salads, grilled, broiled, baked, the sky’s the limit!
- Herring – similar to other fish, there are many herring recipes out there to try
- Black walnuts – grab a handful for an easy and satisfying snack or toss them into your morning cereal for added crunch
Eat your way to healthier hearing with foods like these in your healthy diet!