10 Superfoods to Boost Brain Health & Memory
How good are you to your brain?
We run to get our heart pumping, lift weights to improve strength, and take probiotics for our digestive tract, but how often do we improve our diet & routines to better our brain?
As we age, we tend to think about our brain more, most often when our memory stalls. But brain health should command our attention at any stage of life. Eating well when you are young benefits the onslaught of aging in all aspects.
Weave these 10 power foods into your diet and not only will you increase your brain function, you might even delay the ‘old age’ mentality by years!
1. Fatty Fish
Our brains are comprised of about 60% fat, half of that being Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s help our brains function and improve memory. Salmon, trout, and sardines are chock full of these fatty acids (tuna also, just be aware of your mercury intake). Studies have also shown these acids contribute to staving off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, in addition to building brain and nerve cells.
There may be more than one good reason your body craves that cup of coffee in the morning. Coffee has high levels of antioxidants which contribute to brain health as well as increasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Caffeine boosts your mood by blocking adenosine, a chemical agent which makes you sleepy. This wonderful beverage is also known to sharpen concentration, and is linked to reducing the risk of neurological diseases. Make mine a double-shot, please ...
You may already be adding blueberries and other deeply coloured fruits to your diet, as they are beneficial to many bodily systems. But there are some advantages specific to your brain. Blueberries contain anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These compounds fight against oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions which both contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Accumulation of these compounds in the brain have also been found to help improve communication between neurons and other brain cells, clearing thoughts and processing information.
Of late, turmeric has become the latest ‘buzzword’ in nutritional news, and with good cause. It contains an active compound called
Curcumin, and has many beneficial effects.
- Clears amyloid plaques to improve memory
- Increases serotonin and dopamine for improved moods
- Helps new brain cells grow
- Boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and delays age-related mental decline
Turmeric can be added to curry recipes and potato dishes, and is also sold as tea.
Plaque clogs the arteries that feed blood to your brain. Ironically, the best way to fight this fat is by using fat. Avocados are packed with artery-scrubbing, hunger-dulling healthy fats, which not only benefit our arteries, but also curb our hunger intakes.
6. Dark Chocolate
Flavonoids, antioxidant plant compounds, are prevalent in dark chocolate and gather in the areas of the brain attributed to learning and memory. Researchers believe flavonoids help slow down age-related mental decline and contribute to memory retention. Flavonoids in dark chocolate are also thought to work as a positive mood booster, though this could arguably be attributed to the delicious taste!
Many of us are aware of broccoli’s’ benefits; namely a high level of vitamin K. This vitamin is essential in forming sphingolipids, a type of fat found densely packed into brain cells. This fat is not only responsible for improving memory, but more specifically, improving verbal episodic memory, or the ability to absorb and remember verbal instructions.
As you may already know, nuts are good for your heart. What you may not know? Nuts also improve brain cognition as well as preventing neurodegenerative diseases. Studies have shown women benefit in recollection and a sharper memory when regularly consuming nuts in their diet. In addition, walnuts have special advantages too, as they contain Omega 3 fatty acids. By substituting the calorie laden peanut butter with almond butter, your brain and your waistline will be happy!
Vitamin C contained in oranges is a key factor in preventing mental decline. Incorporating vitamin C into your diet helps defend your brain against damage from free radicals. Oranges can also help reduce your risk of age-related Alzheimer’s disease.
10. Whole Eggs
Some of the highest concentrations of nutrients and vitamins are found in whole eggs, helping our brains function at peak-performance. One of the most beneficial compounds is choline, a micro-nutrient which creates acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter regulating mood and memory) in packed egg yolks. Vitamin B, which has been found to slow mental decline and depression in aging adults, synthesises brain chemicals and regulates sugar levels, too.
The Bottom Line
The brain is the control centre for your body, allowing you to feel, think, and move. For increased brain health, we are not just looking to increase blood flow and remember more. We hope to defeat the accumulation of plaque on the neuroreceptors, as well as grow new ones to replace generative loss.
You can help support your brain health and boost your alertness, memory and mood by including these foods in your diet. In your quest for better brain health, do stay away from garbage foods containing hydrogenated fats and fructose sugars. Keep sodium on the low-down also; it constricts blood supply to the brain, contributing to brain fog and impaired memory access. Incorporating these healthy foods into your diet will help your brain today, as well as tomorrow.