We know it’s important to eat well to keep our bodies in shape but are we forgetting about our minds?
Our diet can impact our mood, concentration and memory. Keep your precious brain functioning at its best with these top ten foods for brain health. After all, it’s the brain that controls most of our body’s activities so it’s important we feed it the right fuel.
Strong scientific evidence exists that suggests that blueberries (not to mention blackberries and strawberries as well) have positive effects on the brain and may even help prevent memory loss. Berries are packed with antioxidants, which aid brain function by simulating blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
2. Wild Salmon
Wild salmon is best known for its high protein and Omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3 oils are important for an array of bodily functions, from digestion and fertility, to muscle activity and brain development.
Farmed salmon is a good alternative is wild salmon isn’t available, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
Much like salmon, almonds are high in omega-3 fatty acid brain fuel. They also contain vitamin E that slows down the aging of brain cells that impact memory. A study in the American Journal of Nutrition found that almonds assist with improving cognitive dysfunctions in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Broccoli is rich in brain-healthy nutrients such as Vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene. Studies have shown broccoli and some plant-based foods may help to slow cognitive degeneration. In recent years, Vitamin K has been seen to fight oxidative stress and inflammation related to Alzheimer’s disease. Data also exists that suggests it has the capacity to influence psychomotor behaviour and cognition.
Leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale also contain the same nutrients and can fuel the brain in a similar way.
Studies have proven that cognitive function is greater in adults that consume walnuts. Snacking on walnuts or tossing them into a salad or onto cereal are easy ways to include them in your diet for improved memory, concentration and information processing. Walnuts contain more antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin E than any other nut! They are also high in Omega-3 fatty acids that support brain health.
Fun fact: Walnuts are the same shape as the brain!
A recent study by Tuffs University in 2017 found that avocado consumption in older adults increases a pigment in the brain that relates to better cognition. The research revealed that adults aged 50 and over that ate one fresh avocado a day for six months experienced improved working memory and problem-solving skills.
Research also shows that the high levels of monosaturated fats may help keep nerve cells in the brain healthy by improving blood flow.
7. Dark Chocolate
Flavonols, a type of antioxidant in cocoa, can help to improve blood flow to the brain and heart. It’s also found in apples, wine and certain types of berries and vegetables.
Chocolate lovers should remember that dark chocolate is the healthiest type of chocolate you can eat but it should be eaten in moderation. Here’s how it compares to milk chocolate.
Studies have proven that turmeric, a herb in the ginger family, aids with brain regeneration, helping to enhance memory. Widely grown in the tropics of Asia, turmeric has also been proven to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by eliminating a plaque buildup in the brain.
9. Coconut Oil
There is evidence to suggest that coconut oil can help people suffering of dementia to regain their cognitive function. It is important to note that more research is required to determine whether coconut oil is able to improve cognitive function in normal brains.
(Coconut oil is rich in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) that break down into ketones. Ketones are transported to the brain when there’s no glucose for it to burn, but only in emergencies will the brain actually use ketones as an energy source).
Coconut oil is a healthy fat with an array of health benefits and can be used in lots of different ways. Read about them here.
10. Green Tea
Green tea is well known for its powerful effects on the body. When it comes to brain health, the large amount of caffeine naturally present in green tea has been found to “improve performance on long-duration cognitive tasks” (National Institute of Health).
A Singapore study found that regular tea drinkers (those who drank a cup to three or more cups a day) reaped the most benefits in terms of brain health.
Learn about our top 5 herbal teas here.
We recommend making a conscious effort to include these foods in your diet. This is important not just for brain health, but because they’re packed with a whole lot of nutritious goodness.