We eat well to meet our goals – to boost our strength, maintain a good weight, and keep ourselves physically healthy and disease-free. Our overall physical state is what we’re concerned about and we often neglect the importance of eating the right kinds of foods to improve our brain and mental health.
Eating well, in general, is good for our gray matter, but there are certain foods that offer optimum benefits for the brain power like enhanced memory, concentration and alertness, improved mood, and lower risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid or DHA help improve memory in young adults. According to Andrea Giancoli, RD, DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain and the higher levels of the nutrient can make the brain operate more efficiently.
And when you hear “omega-3”, fish is the first word that comes to mind, though not all fishes are created equal. Salmon is topping the charts as one of the best sources of these healthy fatty acids that your brain needs.
Aside from salmon, you can try other fatty fishes like mackerel, tuna, sardines, and herring. It is recommended to consume salmon or other oily fishes at least thrice a week and substitute fish for meat. Enjoy fishes broiled, baked, or smoked instead of having them fried. You can also get your daily dose of omega-3 from fish oil supplements.
Who says healthy can’t be delicious? Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins and other flavonoids that help improve the function of the nervous system and brain health. Many years of research on blueberries antioxidants lead to the conclusion that the consumption of these sweet and tangy fruits can improve the memory and slow down or postpone the onset of age-related cognitive decline and neurogenerative disorders.
Aside from blueberries, you may also snack on other dark-colored berries like blackberries, cherries, and strawberries. Frozen or dried berries don’t necessarily spoil the benefits. However, nothing compares to berries when enjoyed fresh and raw. Including one serving (1 cup) of blueberries on your daily fruit servings provide you with optimum health benefits.
It may be coincidental that the shape of a walnut resembles the shape of the human brain and they’re considered powerful brain foods at the same time. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats, vitamin E, melatonin, folate, and antioxidant properties, which are neuroprotective compounds that trap free radicals that may damage the brain cells and enhance your cognitive function as you age.
4. Pumpkin seeds
There’s no doubt that cracking pumpkin seeds itself can reduce your boredom and improve your mood. These small crunchies contain hefty nutrients like zinc which is vital for boosting thinking skills and memory. Pumpkin seeds enhance your mood since they also contain magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which stimulate the production of serotonin, your body’s good mood chemical.
Have you ever wondered why eggs are always present in the most important meal of the day? Eggs are essential for your nervous system and cognitive activity, which may be the reason why. The champion here is the round and bright egg yolks that contain choline, a nutrient that serves multiple integral brain functions.
6. Whole grains
Low-carb diets can make you less functional and productive throughout the day so fill up with healthy carbs – whole grains. Your ability to concentrate and focus is linked to your brain’s supply of glucose, which is found in whole grains. Opt for “brown” foods like whole wheat bread, rice, and pasta with low Glycemic Index (GI) which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream to keep your mentally alert.
7. Cruciferous veggies
Aside from making your skin and hair glow, getting adequate vegetables, especially the cruciferous ones can help improve your memory and make you smarter. These superfoods contain powerful antioxidants that decrease your brain’s vulnerability to oxidative stress, which may damage your brain cells.
Make sure to include cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and lettuce in your daily diet to reap optimum benefits.
Broccoli is one of the world’s healthiest foods. It contains a long list of vital vitamins and minerals, and two crucial nutrients beneficial to brain power are part of the list. Broccoli contains choline, which helps improve the memory, and Vitamin K which can strengthen cognitive abilities, making this crunchy and delicious vegetable a great brain food.
According to Dr, Ann Kulze, the author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow in the brain and lower blood pressure. These healthy fats also help keep the brain cell membrane flexible and work to protect nerve cells in the brain.
Carmina Natividad is one of the daytime writers for The Australasian College of Health and Wellness, a government accredited educational institution specializing in the discipline of health science. She spends most of her time writing articles focused on aesthetics and overall health and wellness.