There are many things you can do to help protect your hearing, from wearing protective ear coverings when exposed to loud noise, to working with a hearing healthcare professional to find the best hearing aid after a diagnosis of hearing loss. Did you know that a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet, could also help to protect your hearing and enhance your hearing health?
More and more research is coming out surrounding the value of the right foods in your diet to help support total health as well as hearing health. A diet based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats is a great place to start. In fact, some research has found that a healthy diet and overall health may have a bigger impact on hearing health than previously thought. The right foods, in recommended amounts, can help support cardiovascular health and reduce inflammation, both important factors in hearing health.
That’s not all, though. Some research has delved even deeper and found connections between certain nutrients and hearing health. Specifically, folate is believed to play a key role in the health of our hearing. In the Blue Mountains Hearing Study, researchers found that a deficiency in folate caused homocysteine levels to increase, potentially restricting blood flow to the cochlea where sound energy is converted to electrical signals that travel to the brain and are interpreted as sound. Researchers concluded that folate deficiency could be responsible for age-related hearing loss in many cases.
What does this mean for you? Ensuring your diet is rich in folate-packed foods could be a delicious way to maintain your hearing now and for years to come. It’s even easier this time of year when seasonal choices like these, naturally high in folate, are easy to find and at their peak of flavor:
- Brussels sprouts: These cabbage cousins are considered a good source of folate and are easy to find this time of year. Shave them to create a salad or sauté them as a side to add them to your meals. Follow these suggestions to select, store and prepare them.
- Artichokes: Another good source of folate, artichokes are worth the work! These tips and ideas can help get you started cooking and enjoying the vegetables as part of your main dish or a savory snack.
- Leafy greens: Collard greens, kale, spinach, arugula and turnip greens are all in season and a great way to add more folate to your diet. Add them to soups, sauté them with garlic and olive oil or blend them into a sweet smoothie. Find more ideas here.
- Parsnips: Another cold-weather favorite, parsnips are a good choice for flavor and folate. Parsnips are best when cooked and can be blended with potatoes for a mash, roasted with other root vegetables or even added to soups and stews. Learn more about how to select and cook parsnips here.
- Pumpkin seeds: While pumpkin itself may not be the best choice for folate, pumpkin seeds are a great way to add the essential B vitamin to your diet. Grab a handful as a snack or add them to your leafy green salad to give it a crunchy boost.
- Oranges: Bite into something sweet and get a boost of folate with juicy seasonal orange. Add it to your leafy green smoothie or enjoy one as a simple and satisfying snack.
- Winter squash: Several varieties of squash contain folate that can help support your hearing health deliciously. Here is a list of different squash and out to prepare them.
As more research is done, we are learning just how dependent hearing health is on our total health. Give your hearing the nutrition it needs with foods like these as part of your daily diet.