Whether its to get a bit of extra spark in neurons or to keep your brain healthy, diet is a great way to look after your grey matter. Rather than taking expensive supplements or chugging caffeine all day to keep your concentration going, consider adding these 9 superfoods regularly into your diet to keep your brain fighting fit.
Salmon are a deep-water fish rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which reduce oxidative stress and enhance synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. Since the body can't produce Omega-3s, they have to be consumed to maintain an adequate supply. They also contain important anti-inflammatory substances.
Other oily fish that provide the benefits of omega-3s are sardines and herring. Eating a combination of these two to three times a week will keep your Omega-3 supplies plentiful.
Similar to other small dark fruits like blackberries, these tiny berries are loaded with antioxidants, which protect your brain from oxidative stress. They can also reduce inflammation, which may improve cognition and memory. Some research indicates that blueberries could provide a range of benefits against neurodegenerative diseases.
Luckily these fruity treats are tasty and couldn't be easier to add to a daily breakfast.
Perhaps the easiest snack to remember as brain food, simply because it looks like one. Again walnuts have Omega-3 fatty acids and pack a range of nutrients into a single nut. Quite a few studies suggest that walnuts can positively affect brain aging and brain health, may prevent memory impairment and help with remembering things commonly forgotten.
As a standalone snack they are easy to eat on-the-go, providing a nice balance of protein and healthy fats.
Not quite the muscle boosting veg we associated with Popeye, spinach is actually high in potassium rather than iron, which helps keep the electrical conductivity of the brain on par – needed for quick thinking. It doesn’t stop there though, spinach is a veritable cornucopia of nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), manganese, folate, magnesium, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, dietary fiber, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, protein and choline! In combination these help maintain cellular functioning and healthy blood flow to the brain.
Though it can be bitter, it’s less so when cooked, and complements any stir fry. Bought frozen it can easily be added fresh in small amounts when cooking dishes.
Containing healthy fats along with potassium, vitamins K, C and E, folate, iron, fiber, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins, avocados are a simple way to get a broad range of nutrients in soft chunks. In fact they contain at least trace amounts of every single vitamin and mineral the human body needs, which may be why they’re known to improve memory and concentration, as well as help prevent blood clots in the brain, and brain dysfunction caused by diabetes.
Need a reason to make those chips healthier? Get some guacamole every time you buy a bag!
Often misconceived as a diet sin, chocolate without the heavy sugar is practically a saint when it comes to health and enjoying a treat in-between or after meals. It’s well known that cacao can help with mood, but less well known that bioflavonoids in chocolate can significantly restore blood flow to the brain – a common problem for healthy aging. The stimulating effects of chocolate have also been demonstrated to improve cognitive performance and mental alertness.
85% cacao or higher chocolate is a great treat any time of day, but hot cocoa also works well for getting a cacao boost.
Another famous dark green veg, broccoli has high levels of vitamin K, which has been seen to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, as well as keep arteries from clogging up. This cruciferous vegetable also has choline, important in cellular repair, and may improve memory and brain function. It’s also a decent source of folic acid, which also helps cognitive function. Finally, a chemical called sulforaphane, is important for strengthening the blood-brain barrier to keep unwanted toxins out of the brain.
Broccoli is a favorite for stir fry, but isn’t bitter, so also works chopped in salads.
Beets are practically loaded with nitrates, providing a natural means of getting nitric oxide in the body, keeping blood flow levels healthy in the brain. When chewed well, saliva also breaks them down in a way that regulates blood pressure for up to 24 hours. Beets have been found to stimulate activity in the frontal cortex, a region of the brain where high-level cognitive processes such as decision-making take place.
Popular in salads, but also make a standalone snack when pickled - great for munching on while preparing meals.
Drunk for centuries in China, green tea is a potent way to deliver herbal infusions that are great for your brain. Green tea contains polyphenols (such as flavonoids) - powerful antioxidants that protect your neurons from damage by free radicals floating around in our bodies. Studies show that green tea improves memory. Black tea is also beneficial, but has less antioxidants.
Perhaps the easiest way to get a nutritional boost for your brain is with a tasty cuppa, anytime anywhere! Next time you’re about to grab a coffee on-the-go…try tea.
It turns out your neurons like tasty treats, so giving your brain some TLC isn't actually a sacrifice. These 9 superfoods are also great for your body, so time to get a pen out and add them to your next shopping list!
Want to learn more about brain health? Check out our blog on fasting.
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