A guide to some of the best brain foods that you can work into your everyday diet for improved cognitive function.
When you head to the fridge to get a snack or plan your dinner for that night, the last thing you’re probably thinking is whether or not it’s good food for the brain. We know about what foods to eat when we want to lose weight, or give ourselves a burst of energy, or even feel a little happier, but did you know there are some foods out there that are just plain good for our brains?
Brain foods are those that have a positive impact on this important body part, whether it’s improving our memory or restoring the damage that might have been done to it. If you’re interested reducing the impact of aging on your brain or want to be a little sharper in your day to day life, try incorporating some of these brain foods into your diet.
Is there anything that blueberries can’t do? They’re delicious and a great snack, but also go so well in muesli, yogurt, fruit salad, and smoothies. Just one cup a day is all you need to protect your brain from stress and also reduce the effects of dementia. Furthermore, people who eat a lot of blueberries will also improve their motor skills and learning abilities, as was proven in a study of lab rats who ate the delicious antioxidant-rich fruit. Choose organic blueberries when possible.
Avocado is a powerhouse when it comes to brain food, and this fatty fruit can be beneficial for the whole body. As a mind food, avocado improves healthy blood flow and circulation in the body which means a healthier brain. Not only that, but it reduces the risk of hypertension, a leading cause of cognitive decline. A half a day is enough to give your brain a boost.
Finally, a brain food that most of us are already enjoying. Coffee features not one, but two, brain-boosting properties: antioxidants and caffeine. First, the caffeine helps to give a boost of energy that increases concentration and mood, secondly, the antioxidants protect our brain from damage and can also reduce the risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Now you have an even better reason to have your morning cup of coffee, and it’s all thanks to your brain. Just be sure to look for organic, whole beans. Again, the quality of the food has a large impact on how beneficial it is.
Turmeric is the buzz spice of the season, and everywhere we turn it’s being added to our favorite foods. The reason turmeric is getting such high praise is that it’s a natural brain booster. This spice is both a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent which means it has loads of benefits. It’s one of the best foods for memory and has been shown to potentially decrease the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are commonly found in people with Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps new brain cells to grow and eases depression, so it’s a force to be reckoned with.
You might have problems trying to get your kids to eat their broccoli, but for adults, it’s a must-have. This leafy green vegetable is packed full of antioxidants that make it ideal for brain health. One key component of broccoli is vitamin K, and studies have also shown that adults with a higher levels of vitamin K have a better memory – a good reason to add it to your plate.
#6: Dark Chocolate
Any excuse to eat chocolate for health reasons we’ll take, so if you want foods that improve memory this is the one to choose. Dark chocolate has loads of health benefits but when it comes to the brain, they’re even more impressive. The flavonoids present help with memory and can slow down mental decline. Additionally, it can give you an instant mood boost when you eat it, which might explain why we feel so happy when we get a chocolate boost. What to look for? A higher percentage of cacao (the higher the cacao, the higher the flavanol level), make sure it is organic and make certain it is NOT processed with alkali (this lowers the flavanol level).
We all know that oranges are a powerful source of Vitamin C, and it’s often the first fruit we reach for when we’ve got the common cold. However, oranges are a good food for your brain because of this high vitamin C content which can actually reduce mental decline as we age. Foods that are high in vitamin C, like oranges, can also protect against damage to the brain by free radicals, so it’s at work in more than just one way.
#4: Pumpkin Seeds
Out of the entire fruit, the seeds are the best for your brain when it comes to pumpkins. There are four main nutrients at play that make pumpkin good brain food, including zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper. Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest sources of these four nutrients so you can actually gain a whole lot by eating a handful of them a day.
Eggs are one of those amazing foods that seem to be able to do it all. When it comes to our brain, they’re even more impressive. Some of the nutrients found in eggs are choline which helps to regulate your mood and memory, and B vitamins which have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression. Always try to eat eggs from free range, hormone free chickens. The “egg” doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Nuts are good for heart health but also for brain health, and they’ve been shown to not only improve cognition but also prevent degenerative diseases of the brain. A handful of nuts a day will give you all the nutrients you need to boost your brain as well as plenty of healthy fats. Dry roasted almonds top the list.
#1: Green Tea
Those in the know about nootropics will already understand how powerful green tea can be for the brain, all thanks to L-theanine. Not only that but when it works in conjunction with caffeine its powers are even greater. Green tea can improve focus, reduce anxiety, and give an instant mood boost with just one cup.