When we talk about nutrition, the conversation usually lends to heart health, reducing blood pressure, gut problems and so on. Somehow, we manage to overlook the control center of all those issues—the brain! What we eat has a profound effect on our brain health and function. Maintaining a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, has proven to enhance memory and concentration, and even ward off dementia, which has become an overwhelming concern with aging. Here are some of the best foods to boost your brain.
Leafy green vegetables
There’s a reason leafy greens are always trending. One study evaluated 950 adults over the course of five years, and found that those eating leafy greens just once or twice a day, experienced far less mental deterioration than those who were not! Just one cup of kale has more than 684 percent of your recommended dietary allowance (RDA).Why not sub out the soup for salad, or go bun-less and get a lettuce wrapped burger?
About 60% of your brain is made of fat. Omega-3’s (the “good fats”) can be found in salmon and trout. Omega-3’s increase blood flow to the brain, and directly build brain and nerve cells, which contribute to our learning ability and memory. They have proven to be effective in combatting Alzheimer's. If you’re looking for a healthy dose of plant-based omega-3’s, some food choices include soybeans, nuts and seeds, especially flax!
Dark chocolate, particularly those with a high cacao concentration, are extremely high in antioxidants, which have been shown to fight oxidative stress in the brain. On top of that, dark chocolate contains high amounts of flavonoids that increase blood flow to the brain. One study monitored brain activity after participants ate 70% cacao chocolate, and the results supported heightened performance claims.
Berries are similar to dark chocolate in that they have high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids, which prevent oxidative stress and help reduce inflammation. Antioxidants can promote communication between brain cells as well as plasticity, which helps brain cells form new connections for increased learning and memory. Particularly great choices include strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.
And finally, the thing we all wanted to hear—coffee! That’s right, your morning (and evening) coffee may give you that jolt in energy you can’t live without, but coffee also comes with more long term effects that support the brain and concentration. Caffeine is a very powerful, natural substance that doesn’t just figuratively make you more productive. First, caffeine works by blocking a substance called adenosine, which is what causes us to feel tired. And secondly, it can increase the feel-good hormone, ‘serotonin,’ which improves your mood. There are some myths floating around that coffee can be harmful in the long-run, but new research has shown that long term coffee drinking is linked to reduced instances of neurological disease like Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s. So yes, make that a venti!
Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods#section2 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044.php https://draxe.com/15-brain-foods-to-boost-focus-and-memory/ https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower