We’ve all heard about the most nutritious foods for the body, but did you know that there are foods that can boost your brain power?
It turns out that the old saying “You are what you eat” contains a kernel of truth when it comes the brain. Researchers have identified certain nutrient-rich foods that directly benefit our brain cells. Adding these foods to your diet will allow you to fuel your brain and tap into your full powers of concentration and creativity.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries are among the top foods for Vitamin C and antioxidants. There is some evidence that antioxidants can prevent or lessen the effects of age-related disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s. There has also been research showing that compounds found in blueberries can enhance brain performance and improve memory. Dr. Steven Pratt, author of SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, calls blueberries “brainberries.”
Salmon and other varieties of deep-water oily fish such as herring and sardines are excellent sources for Omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are essential for brain function and promote cardiovascular health. Omega-3 acids are also associated with a decreased risk of certain types of cancer, including colon, prostrate and breast cancer.
The complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals found in whole grains are an excellent source of fuel for the brain. Whole-grain foods, including breads, brown rice, wheat germ and oatmeal, assist with blood flow throughout the body, stabilize blood sugar levels and help move toxins out of the digestive track. All of these benefits have a direct effect on the health of the brain.
Nuts and Seeds
Fatty acids and Vitamin E found in nuts and seeds can help combat cognitive decline in an aging brain. The most important fatty acid in nuts is monounsaturated oleic acid, which is found in cashews, pecans, almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts as well as in flax, sesame and sunflower seeds. An ounce a day of nuts, seeds or nut butter can greatly benefit brain health.
Beans are an economical, healthy food that stabilizes glucose levels, providing the brain with a steady stream of energy. Black beans are especially good for the brain because of the presence of antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Pinto, lima and kidney beans as well as lentils are also beneficial for the brain.
The monounsaturated fat in avocados contributes to healthy blood flow and a healthy brain. Avocados also contribute to overall health by lowering blood pressure. Since they are relatively high in calories, most nutritionists recommend eating no more than 1/2 avocado per day.
Freshly Brewed Tea
Black and green tea contain a small amount of caffeine that can fight mental fatigue and help the mind feel sharp and focused. Tea also contains antioxidants known as catechines that can help promote healthy blood flow. In order to receive the brain-benefits of tea, it must be brewed from loose tea leaves or tea bags and not bottled or powdered.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Green vegetables like spinach, kale and cabbage contain healthy levels of Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and folic acid. These substances help support memory function. Leafy green vegetables are also a rich source of essential minerals for the brain and are high in iron, a necessary ingredient for cognitive function.
Eggs contain healthy amounts of Vitamin B12 and lecithin, substances which help combat the brain atrophy that can occur as the brain ages. They also contain essential fatty acids and choline, a building block of brain cells that contributes to memory function. Eggs were once avoided because they were thought to contain too much cholesterol, but nutritionist now say that eating 1 to 2 egg products a day is good for both the body and the brain.
We saved the best for last. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavonols that help increase blood flow to the brain. In addition, chocolate is a natural stimulant that can increase your concentration and focus. It also stimulates the production of endorphin, the same hormone that makes you feel good after exercising. In moderation (about an ounce a day), dark chocolate is a very nutritious food for the brain.
Combining these “superfoods” with healthy habits like getting enough sleep, staying physically fit and engaging in mental challenges will help you enjoy maximum brain power throughout your life. Losing your memory and become confused don’t have to be part of the aging process if you take steps throughout your lifetime to exercise your brain and provide it with nutrient-rich food.