June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, and celebrity chef Madison Cowan is working with the Alzheimer’s Association to spread the word that a balanced diet, lower in fat and higher in produce, may assist in reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

Cowan has catered to many stars, including Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry, Woody Allen, and even former President Bill Clinton. One of his biggest claims to fame in the food world is as the first ever grand champion of “Chopped” on the Food Network.

Alzheimer's has touched the chef's life personally: Cowan’s father and father-in-law both passed away from Alzheimer’s. His daughter’s grandmother is effected as well. “One of the first things I did when I gained exposure on television was to really sit down and try to search out charities that I could lend exposure and a voice to,” he says. The Alzheimer’s Association immediately stood out. It’s personal. Weaving his love of cooking and family, Cowan wants others to know that there are things you can do to lower the risk and strengthen your mind.

  • First, he says to manage stress.
  • Have some fun. Exercise your mind, play mind games: "One of my favorite things to do with my family is to play board games on a Saturday night,” Cowan says. Pairs is a popular memory game in his household.
  • Keep the mind and body strong. He does this through a thousand turns on a weighted jumping rope, yoga and core exercises. Of course, just getting moving is key!
  • Rest your body.
  • Hit the Books!
  • Eat a healthy diet of colorful fruits and vegetables, avoiding large quantities of fat. He recommends the Mediterranean diet for this, meaning lots of fish, produce, olive oil and herbs--ingredients that helped him win Chopped!