Looking at optimising your child’s nutrition during the exam period? Exploring ways to stay sharp during work meetings?
If so, paying attention to your diet and including friendly foods can really pay off. Brain foods are rich in various antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals that provide energy and aid in protecting against brain diseases.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes the following 11 brain-boosting foods will help keep your memory, concentration and focus as sharp as can be.
This superfood is high in monounsaturated fats, along with potassium, magnesium, vitamin K and folate which all are good for supporting brain and nervous tissues. Particularly, the healthy fats found in avocados are really great for brain function and hormones. Avocados are known to reduce the risk of plaque buildup and enhance blood flow, offering a great way to fire up brain cells.
Maybe there is a reason why walnuts look like a hemisphere of your brain, because they support that organ. Walnuts are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Diets rich in ALA and other omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to lower blood pressure and cleaner arteries. That’s good for both the heart and brain. Just munching on a few walnuts a day can improve cognitive health. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness.
Broccoli is not only a superfood for the whole body, but also one of the best foods to boost brain power and improve memory. They are rich in calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins, beta-carotene, iron, fibre, choline and vitamin K. These valuable nutrients together protect against free radicals, maintain smooth blood circulation, and remove heavy metals that could damage the brain. Moreover, the broccoli is also high in potassium, this supports the nervous system, which in turn helps the brain too.
This superfood is packed with antioxidants like anthocyanins, flavonoids, and resveratrol that gives blueberries their vibrant blue hue. These powerful antioxidants are known to be very good for brain health. Studies show that blueberries are beneficial to prevent neurodegeneration which is really important and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Beetroots are high in nitrates, which help increase blood flow in parts of the brain related to executive functioning. They also contain lots of B9 vitamins, which aid cognitive functioning and delay dementia. Moreover, this vibrant superfood is also rich in carotenoids, which can help boost brain functioning and stave off depression.
- Dark Chocolate
Chocolates are chock full of flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are important for brain health. The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, the latter contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases.
Eggs, especially egg yolks contain an important micronutrient beneficial for brain health, called choline. Choline is an important micronutrient that the body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory. Several studies have found higher intakes of choline were linked to better memory and mental function. In addition, other B vitamins including vitamins B1, B3 and folic acid in eggs also play an important role in regulating normal brain function.
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides that the body uses for energy, leaving glucose for the brain. Coconut oil also acts as an anti-inflammatory and has been linked to the prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Green Tea
The caffeine in green tea can boost brain function, improve alertness, performance, memory and focus. Besides, green tea also has other components that make it a brain-healthy beverage. One of them is L-theanine, an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed. They are also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that may protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there. It boosts serotonin and dopamine, which both improves mood. Moreover, curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. It may help to also delay age-related mental decline.
Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds especially, are great for the brain. They contain a rich mix of protein, omega fatty acids and B vitamins which are vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. These seeds also contain tryptophan, which the brain converts into serotonin to boost mood and combat depression. Moreover, seeds are a rich source of zinc which particularly helps enhance memory and thinking skills.
Info adapted from:
- Shelly Emling, 2015. A Few Walnuts A Day May Help Boost Memory, Study Finds.
- Peter Pribis, Barbara Shukitt-Hale,2014. Cognition: the new frontier for nuts and berries
- Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD, 2017. Healthline: 11 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain and Memory
- Christina Dietz & Matthijs Dekker, 2017. Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition
- Dr. Josh Axe, 2015. 15 Brain Foods to Boost Focus and Memory