As they say, you are what you eat. When eating healthy foods, we tend to have our physical body at top of mind. But equally if not more important should be nourishing our actual mind.
Our brain governs our body and its processes from our head to our toes and needs to be well taken care of for optimal functioning. A key component of that lies in what we eat. Here are 15 of the best foods for your brain.
1. Whole Grains
Whole grains such as brown rice, brown bread, pasta, and cereals are a great source of vitamin E, which is vital to cognitive functioning. The complex carbohydrates contained in whole grains give our bodies energy to burn, and this includes the brain. The nutrients supplied by these foods promote a steady flow of blood to the brain, helping maintain alertness.
2. Fatty Fish
Seafood is said to have a large percentage of omega-3 fatty acids. Vital for brain development in children, Omega-3s boost memory and learning. Additionally, people battling depression and anxiety could benefit from consuming more fatty fish as these fatty acids also have mood-boosting properties.
Fatty or oily fish contain the highest levels of Omega-3s. Types of fatty fish include
Egg yolks contain choline, an amino acid known for regulating our moods, reducing inflammation, and for good memory and thinking.
4. Dark Green Vegetables
Kale, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, sage, and cabbages contain Vitamin K, which is vital to the formation of sphingolipids, fats in the brain responsible for increasing and protecting brain cells.
Vitamin K may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other age-related diseases that can affect the brain.
For best results, eat fresh veggies that are in-season where you live or opt for frozen ones. Produce begin losing nutrients the moment they are harvested, so the longer they must travel to your grocery store the greater the nutrient loss.
Coffee has a couple things going for it when it comes to brain health. If you think of coffee, you probably think of caffeine and are aware of its positive effects on the brain, namely increasing alertness and boosting energy and mood.
But coffee also contains a high concentration of antioxidants, the long-term consumption of which is believed to lower one’s risk of developing brain-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
6. Vitamin C Fruits
Fruits that contain high amounts of vitamin C are good for the heart and the brain. Vitamin C helps prevent brain cells from becoming damaged, making fruits like oranges, kiwis, strawberries, and mangoes beneficial aids in preventing dementia. Studies show that having high levels of vitamin C can prevent memory loss and thinking as you age.
Almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds contain the highest amounts of Vitamin E, which is credited with shielding the brain from oxidative stress and helping to prevent memory loss.
The compound curcumin gives turmeric its bright yellow color and brain-benefitting properties. Curcumin and the other antioxidants present in turmeric play a role in improved memory, growth of new cells, and even assist with lessening the symptoms of depression.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain a host of antioxidants as well as some key minerals for brain health:
- Zinc is critical for many brain cell processes, including supporting cross-synaptic communication in the central nervous system.
- The right balance of Copper is believed to be an important part of healthy nerve signaling.
- Magnesium boosts learning and memory.
- Iron is important for keeping brain fog at bay.
10. Dark Chocolate
Apart from the relaxation and pleasure that comes with eating chocolate, the compounds it contains possess major benefits for the brain. Cocoa, or cacao, is packed with flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants that support healthy blood flow in the brain and have positive effects on memory and learning.
11. Green Tea
Many people wanting to decrease their caffeine intake or break a coffee addiction go for green tea, and for good reason. Like coffee, green tea also contains caffeine – just a lesser amount. Green tea also contains the mood-boosting amino acid L-theanine, which helps green tea drinkers reap the alertness and mental sharpness benefits of caffeine without the jitters often associated with coffee.
12. Organ Meats
Though not too popular in the United States, eating other organs such as kidney, heart, and even brain carries benefits that fatty meat doesn’t. Liver is one most of us are familiar with, and this organ meat contains a host of vitamins and minerals that are good for your brain.
Liver contains omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients that protect the human brain from damage due to oxidative stress, a natural byproduct of metabolism and cellular function. Liver is a good source of the B vitamins known for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety.
All types of berries contain flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that are good for the brain. Flavonoids are believed to improve communication between brain cells, fight inflammation in the neurons, and increase plasticity for memory and learning.
Beans are a great source of energy for the brain. The minerals and antioxidants in beans provide the brain with enough glucose to keep our minds fresh and energized.
Wine is not only good for the heart but also for the brain. The act of tasting wine stimulates the brain and increases cognitive function as your senses engage with the drink. An organic compound found in wine is said to prevent stroke, cognitive decline, and dementia.
A glass with a nice meal or after a long day at work is probably good for your overall well-being, but keep in mind alcohol itself isn’t the best for the brain and so must be enjoyed sparingly to reap the benefits.