Ever feel like your mind is just off? Need to re-focus or boost your brain power? Eating the right types of food can actually do this for you! According to The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging, the right nutrition is an important determinant of human mental performance. The role of antioxidants and micronutrients in certain foods are key to delaying cognitive loss due to aging, as well as preventing Alzheimer’s disease. By consuming a healthy diet that includes brain-boosting foods, you can have an effective and easy way to deal with cognitive decline.
Here are the top 6 foods to include in your everyday diet to give your brain a boost in order to live an overall healthy and efficient life:
1) Curry Spice
Bring some heat into your life with curry spice. India consumes very high doses of curry spice and this country has one of the lowest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease! It is a traditional medicinal herb in India that has been shown to reduce memory deficits as well as a very strong antioxidant that protects the brain. Indians include curry spice in almost every meal that contains meat or vegetables over rice. While you don’t have to include it into every meal, adding this spice into some meals will be helpful in boosting your brain power like the people of India! You can add curry powder to eggs, vegetables, meats, roasted nuts and seeds, soups, popcorn, cous cous salads, or of course in curry!
Walnuts are one of the most effective brain-boosting foods because they contain “polyphenolic compounds” which reduce inflammation in brain cells and improve neuron signaling throughout the body3! Walnuts also contain Omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to accelerated brain function, eye health, skin and hair health, and weight management. If you don’t like walnuts, any other type of nut will have similar benefits. Try adding nuts into your daily meals with trail mix, toppings on salads, or just grabbing a handful as a snack!
Don’t fear fat! Eating the “good” kinds of fat is optimal for brain health. Good fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while the “bad” kinds that you want to limit are saturated and trans fat. Avocados are one of the good kinds of fat that are very nutritious and promote cell development and regulate hormones. This is linked to improved brain health4! Add avocado to toast, tacos, salads, eggs, or fish to get this healthy fat into your day!
These little fruits are very powerful! Berries contain the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit which are extremely brain boosting. Studies show that including berries regularly in your daily life can improve learning and motor capacity skills5. Berries are typically in season during the spring and summer months. However, buying frozen berries can be a cheaper and just as healthy option! Add berries to your smoothies, cereal or oatmeal, yogurt, spinach salads, or as a sweet side to your usual meals!
5) Dark Chocolate
Yes it’s true. You can eat chocolate to boost your health, especially for more brain power. However, the darker the better when it comes to the health benefits of chocolate. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that improve blood flow to the brain6! This will keep you thinking quick and clear. Add dark chocolate to oatmeal, healthy baked goods, melted on fruit, or just straight up from a bar! Try these yummy dark chocolate bars with organic and minimal ingredients.
6) Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables
We all know that these leafy greens are good for our overall health. But they particularly also help with brain health. One study found that older people who have one or more servings of dark, leafy greens per day had a slower rate of memory decline as well as increased thinking skills compared to people who rarely ate them7. If you don’t like the taste of these vegetables- try sneaking them into smoothies, sauces, and soups so you don’t taste them!
- Bourre, J. M. (2006). EFFECTS OF NUTRIENTS (IN FOOD) ON THE STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM: UPDATE ON DIETARY REQUIREMENTS FOR BRAIN. PART 1: MICRONUTRIENTS. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging©, 10(5), 377-385. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d8b2/86c06f207463c7756a773fd62ce73092a226.pdf.
- Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: The effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(7), 568-578. doi:10.1038/nrn2421
- Shibu M. Poulose, Marshall G. Miller, Barbara Shukitt-Hale; Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 144, Issue 4, 1 April 2014, Pages 561S–566S, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.113.184838
- Amminger, G. P., Schäfer, M. R., Schlögelhofer, M., Klier, C. M., & Mcgorry, P. D. (2015). Longer-term outcome in the prevention of psychotic disorders by the Vienna omega-3 study. Nature Communications, 6(1). doi:10.1038/ncomms8934
- Essa, M., Al-Adawi, S., Memon, M., Manivasagam, T., Akbar, M., & Subash, S. (2014). Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural Regeneration Research, 9(16), 1557. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.139483 6. Francis, S. T., Head, K., Morris, P. G., & Macdonald, I. A. (2006). The Effect of Flavanol-rich Cocoa on the fMRI Response to a Cognitive Task in Healthy Young People. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 47(Supplement 2). doi:10.1097/00005344-200606001-00018
- Morris, M. C., Wang, Y., Barnes, L. L., Bennett, D. A., Dawson-Hughes, B., & Booth, S. L. (2017). Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline. Neurology, 90(3). doi:10.1212/wnl.0000000000004815