A healthy brain is central to the health of your whole body.
But, we generally don’t even think about our brain and its health until we see the effects of its decline.
Your brain, like your heart, lungs, or any other major organ, relies on needed nutrients for both proper functioning and to fight natural decline that happens with age.
Ever heard of the age-old saying “you are what you eat?” Well, that saying greatly applies to your brain, and thus your ability to learn, your thought processes, memory, and ability to focus as well.
So, what foods can you incorporate to get the most brain boosting bang for your buck?
Let’s look at the top 12…
Berries contain antioxidants and deliver what are known as anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are plant compounds that contain both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Some of the antioxidants in blueberries, specifically, can accumulate in your brain, improving how your brain cells communicate with one another.
- black currants
These all contain antioxidants that can increase plasticity which boosts memory and learning by helping brain cells form new connections.
As antioxidants work to prevent damage in your body from free radicals, berries (loaded with antioxidants) combat this damage in the cells of your brain to improve learning and prevent decline.
Research also shows that the flavonoids in berries are responsible for memory improvement, and consuming just two or more servings of berries per week delayed memory decline in women by two and a half years.
2- Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, due to its cacao content, also contains antioxidant-rich flavonoids.
As we mentioned above, antioxidants benefit your body by protecting your cells against oxidative stress, damage that is done by free radicals.
Your brain is especially sensitive to oxidative stress which causes mental decline as you age, making foods high in antioxidants, like dark chocolate, an important part of your diet.
Cacao flavonoids have been observed in studies to facilitate the growth of blood vessels and cells within the brain involved in both learning and memory.
And, in studies done on snails, these flavonoids showed a reversal in memory problems.
3- Fatty Fish
This type of fish could easily make the top of the list when it comes to brain boosting foods!
Each of these kinds of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, the exact kind of fat that makes up nearly 60% of your brain.
Omega-3s help to build membranes of brain cells. They have been shown to increase needed blow flow to the brain, and they are proven to be essential for both learning and memory.
Fatty acids found in these types of fish have even been shown as a potential aid in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, as they slow cognitive decline associated with the natural process of aging.
One of the most consumed, and loved, beverages in the world, coffee contains so many benefits to your health! (minus the unhealthy additions like sugars, syrups, and some milks of course)
It’s antioxidant content is off the charts, making it a powerful superfood…or drink.
Drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 65%.
The caffeine content of coffee is helpful to your brain, keeping you alert by blocking the chemicals that make you feel tired.
Drinking coffee in the morning, or even throughout the day has shown to improve concentration effectively when performing tasks.
Some studies have found that the caffeine in your coffee may even raise your brain’s capacity for processing information, increasing complex and variable brain activity.
You know the jingle, “the incredible, edible egg.” Well, just how incredible is this wonderful edible in regards to brain function?
First, eggs are high in vitamins B6 and B12, as well as folate, all of which are linked to delaying mental decline and even preventing brain shrinkage.
Eggs also contain choline which aids in your body’s production of a neurotransmitter that regulates memory.
6- Nuts & Seeds
Like the fatty fish that we mentioned earlier, many kinds of nuts and seeds contain brain benefiting omega-3s. And, they are also high in antioxidants which can fight oxidative stress that occurs within the body.
The omega-3 and antioxidant content found in most nuts and seeds combines to protect against cognitive decline that occurs with aging as brain cells are protected from free radical damage.
Some seeds, pumpkin in particular, contain high levels of zinc which is needed for nerve signaling within the brain, and magnesium which is essential for learning and memory.
Many nuts also contain high levels of vitamin E, a needful antioxidant known for improving brain function and preventing mental decline.
Consider adding these seeds and nuts to your diet to boost the health of your brain:
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as those listed below all contain glucosinolates.
- bok choy
- brussel sprouts
And, as your body breaks down these glucosinolates, isothiocyanates are produced to combat and reduce oxidative stress.
This type of interaction within the body, reducing oxidative stress, is thought to lower a person’s risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases as well as other memory disorders.
The vitamin C content found in these vegetables can also protect lost memory as you age.
Avocados uniquely help your brain by their ability to lower blood pressure.
While high blood pressure is often associated primarily with detriments to your heart, it can also lead to mental decline.
Both high blood pressure and a high bad cholesterol level can cause a buildup of plaque in your arteries, hindering blood flow.
And, limiting blood flow to the brain can not only lead to things like strokes, but this can also lead to dementia, early brain aging, Alzheimer’s, and overall problems with thinking.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a compound with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
What’s special about curcumin though regarding brain health is that it can cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to directly enter and provide needed benefit to your brain’s cells.
Curcumin has been found to improve memory, delay cognitive decline brought on through aging, and it even boosts the growth hormone responsible for brain cell growth.
10- Whole Grains
Whole grains, like those listed below, are a great source of vitamin E.
- whole grain pasta
- whole grain bread
- bulgur wheat
- brown rice
Vitamin E has been linked to slowing Alzheimer’s disease, benefiting both memory and overall brain function.
Like avocados, whole grains also help brain function by promoting a healthy blood pressure and thus a healthy flow of blood to the brain.
11- Green Tea
Green tea has been linked specifically with improved memory.
Its antioxidant levels combat that nasty damage caused by free radicals that we’ve mentioned in several points already in this article.
And, the caffeine content, though not as high as the amounts in coffee, can improve memory, increase concentration, and make you more alert.
Green tea also contains an amino acid that is known to increase the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain that help you feel relaxed, aiding in sleep (a crucial need in keeping your brain functioning optimally).
While I wouldn’t advise reaching for candies and cookies as a source, sugar is needed by your brain for fuel.
Actually, not just sugar, but glucose…which is why your body prefers oranges to Snickers when it comes to brain function.
Too much sugar, as is the case with that candy bar, can impair memory.
But, your brain does use the carbs and sugars you eat to make and utilize glucose, thereby making an orange or a small glass of orange juice, a great boost to your short term memory, learning processes, and overall cognitive abilities.
Oranges are also a rich source of vitamin C, a proven need in preventing overall and age-related cognitive decline.
Oddball Food Reverses Memory Loss
Oddball or not, researchers say this food with a nutty flavor
reverses memory loss and protects against dementia.