Your brain controls almost everything you do, so it’s essential to keep it in peak working condition. Luckily, nutrition can have a substantial impact when it comes to boosting our brainpower. Eating the right foods can significantly improve your cognitive function, including memory, decision-making ability, mental response time and mood.
When it comes to eating right for your brain, it’s crucial to incorporate a varied and healthy menu – one that’s largely plant-based and that incorporates good fats from fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. It’s also important to eat from a well-balanced menu to avoid nutrient deficiencies that can impair brain function. Common deficiencies include iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Keep your brain in top form by incorporating the following 12 superfoods.
12 all-star brainpower foods
Blueberries – Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that protect brain cells from oxidative damage, reduce inflammation and clear toxic proteins that accumulate with age. New research suggests that this “superfruit” can also help prevent premature aging, memory loss and dementia.
Kale – Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, are full of vitamin E – another important antioxidant that has been shown to slow cognitive decline in older adults.
Salmon – When people talk about brain foods, salmon is often at the top of the list. The brain is the fattiest organ in the body, and foods rich in omega 3, such as fatty fish, help lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure, thereby keeping blood vessels healthy and brain cells flexible. Looking for a non-fish alternative to omega 3s? Try walnuts.
Beets – Root vegetables are rich in nitrates, which can dilate blood vessels to allow more oxygenated blood to reach the brain.
Barley and chickpeas – Glucose is the brain’s preferred source of fuel; however, glucose fuel stores are small, which is why we need a continuous supply. Whole grains and legumes like barley and chickpeas provide the brain with a slow, sustained release of glucose. They’re also rich in folic acid, which has been shown to boost memory.
Extra virgin olive oil – When consumed in moderation and in place of saturated and trans fats, healthy monounsaturated fats, such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, can improve memory by helping to optimize blood cholesterol levels.
Eggs and chicken – Eggs and chicken contain a B vitamin necessary to produce a neurotransmitter that boosts memory and communication among brain cells and may even enhance brain cell production throughout childhood. Pairing proteins with carbohydrates at meals also results in a slow, steady supply of glucose for the brain.
Sesame seeds – Sesame seeds are rich in tyrosine, which is needed to produce dopamine – a neurotransmitter that keeps the brain alert and memory sharp.
Rosemary and mint – These herbs have been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which can improve concentration and memory.
Brain tip: Hydrate!
Staying hydrated facilitates the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. This helps to improve concentration and cognition, balance moods and emotions, maintain memory function, prevent headaches and increase energy.
Brain tip: Eat breakfast, eat regularly!
Your brain is constantly working to sense, process, think and move. As a result, it requires an enormous amount of energy – twice as many calories as other cells in the body. Help wake up your brain with breakfast, and try not to go more than five hours without eating.
Remember, what’s good for your body also tends to be good for your brain!
Are you interested in learning more dietitian-approved tips? Check out Copeman’s definitive guide to