Your brain is a big problem. As your body’s control center, it is in charge of keeping your heart beating and your lungs breathing and allowing you to move, feel, and think. That is why it is a good idea to keep your brain in optimal working order. The foods you eat play a role in brain health and can improve specific mental tasks, such as memory and concentration. This article lists 11 foods that stimulate your brain.
You already know that eating certain foods can help you lose weight and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease, but eating a healthy diet can also keep your brain sharp. The foods you eat affect neurological health in many ways, including effects on insulin resistance, detoxification, and systemic inflammation, and they provide critical vitamins, says Dale E. Bredesen, MD, neurologist and author of the upcoming book The End. of Alzheimer’s Program, which has an entire section dedicated to foods that help prevent cognitive decline. The trick is to find an eating style that optimizes your brainpower and is sustainable.
It’s worth noting that in the study, those with the highest MIND diet scores ate cheese and fried or fast food less than once a week, red meat less than four times a week, and less desserts, cakes, or sweets. five times a week. . They also used less than a tablespoon of butter or margarine a day and made olive oil their main source of fat. Translation: Eating brain healthy foods is not enough; To help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, you also need to limit these less healthy groups.
Here are best foods to boost your brain and memory
1. Green tea
As is the case with coffee, the caffeine in green tea stimulates brain function. In fact, it has been found to improve alertness, performance, memory, and focus. But green tea also has other components that make it a healthy drink for the brain. One of them is L-theanine, an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed.
L-Theanine also increases the frequency of alpha waves in the brain, helping you relax without feeling tired. One review found that the L-theanine in green tea can help you relax by counteracting the stimulating effects of caffeine. It is also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that can protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Additionally, green tea has been found to improve memory.
2. Fatty fish
When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is usually at the top of the list. This type of fish includes salmon, trout, and sardines, which are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. About 60% of your brain is made up of fat, and half of that fat is omega-3 type. Your brain uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memory. Omega 3-s also have a couple of additional benefits for your brain.
On the one hand, they can slow down age-related mental decline and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, not getting enough omega-3s is linked to learning disabilities, as well as depression. In general, eating fish appears to have positive health benefits. One study found that people who regularly ate baked or grilled fish had more gray matter in the brain. Gray matter contains most of the nerve cells that control decision-making, memory, and emotions. In general, fatty fish is a great option for brain health.
Turmeric has caused quite a stir recently. This deep yellow spice is a key ingredient in curry powder and has a number of benefits for the brain. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit cells there. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has been linked to the following brain benefits:
- May benefit memory: Curcumin can help improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s. It can also help remove amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of this disease.
- Relieves depression: increases serotonin and dopamine, which improve mood. One study found that curcumin improved depression symptoms as much as an antidepressant for six weeks.
- Helps New Brain Cell Growth: Curcumin stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. It can help slow age-related mental decline, but more research is needed.
To reap the benefits of curcumin, try cooking with curry powder, adding turmeric to potato dishes to brown them, or making turmeric tea.
You can get all the vitamin C you need in one day by eating a medium orange. Doing so is important for brain health, as vitamin C is a key factor in preventing mental decline. Eating sufficient amounts of foods rich in vitamin C may protect against age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2014 review article.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals that can damage brain cells. Plus, vitamin C supports brain health as you age. You can also get excellent amounts of vitamin C from bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Blueberries provide numerous health benefits, including some that are specifically for your brain. Blueberries and other brightly colored berries provide anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Antioxidants act against both oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions that can contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells. Animal studies have shown that blueberries help improve memory and may even delay short-term memory loss. Try sprinkling them on your breakfast cereal or adding them to a smoothie.
6. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage. They are also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. Each of these nutrients is important for brain health:
- Zinc: this element is crucial for nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraines, depression, and epilepsy.
- Copper: Your brain uses copper to help control nerve signals. And when copper levels are out of control, there is an increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.
- Iron: Iron deficiency is often characterized by mental confusion and impaired brain function.
Research is primarily focused on these micronutrients, rather than the pumpkin seeds themselves. However, since pumpkin seeds are high in these micronutrients, you can likely reap their benefits by adding pumpkin seeds to your diet.
If coffee is the highlight of your morning, you’ll be happy to know it’s good for you.
Two main components in coffee, caffeine and antioxidants, help your brain.
The caffeine in coffee has a number of positive effects on the brain, including:
- Increased Alertness: Caffeine keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you sleepy.
- Mood Enhancement: Caffeine can also stimulate some of the “feel good” neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.
- Acute concentration: One study found that when participants drank a large coffee in the morning or smaller amounts throughout the day, they were more effective at tasks that required concentration.
Long-term coffee drinking is also linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. This could be at least in part due to the high concentration of antioxidants in coffee.
Broccoli is packed with powerful plant compounds, including antioxidants. It is also very rich in vitamin K, providing more than 100% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) in a 1-cup (91-gram) serving. This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for the formation of sphingolipids, a type of fat that is densely packed in brain cells.
Some studies in older adults have linked higher vitamin K intake with better memory. Beyond vitamin K, broccoli contains a number of compounds that give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can help protect the brain from damage.
Research has shown that eating walnuts can improve markers of heart health, and having a healthy heart is linked to having a healthy brain. A 2014 review showed that nuts can improve cognition and even help prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
Additionally, another large study found that women who ate nuts regularly for several years had sharper memories, compared to those who didn’t eat nuts. Various nutrients in walnuts, such as healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, may explain their benefits for brain health.
Vitamin E protects cell membranes from free radical damage, which helps slow mental decline. While all walnuts are good for your brain, walnuts may have an added bonus, as they also provide omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs are a good source of several nutrients related to brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline. Choline is an important micronutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory. Two studies found that higher choline intake was linked to better memory and mental function.
However, many people do not get enough choline in their diet. Eating eggs is an easy way to get choline, since egg yolks are among the most concentrated sources of this nutrient. Adequate choline intake is 425 mg per day for most women and 550 mg per day for men, with a single egg yolk containing 112 mg.
Also, the B vitamins have several functions in brain health. For starters, they can help slow the progression of mental decline in the elderly. Additionally, deficiency of two types of B vitamins, folate and B12, has been linked to depression. Folate deficiency is common in older people with dementia, and studies show that folic acid supplements can help minimize age-related mental decline. Vitamin B12 is also involved in the synthesis of brain chemicals and in the regulation of sugar levels in the brain.
It’s worth noting that there is very little direct research on the link between eating eggs and brain health. However, there is research to support the benefits of the nutrients found in eggs to stimulate the brain.
11. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain some compounds that stimulate the brain, including flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants. Flavonoids are a group of antioxidant plant compounds. The flavonoids in chocolate accumulate in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory. Researchers say that these compounds can improve memory and also help slow age-related mental decline. In fact, several studies support this.
In a study that included more than 900 people, those who ate chocolate more frequently performed better on a number of mental tasks, including some related to memory, than those who rarely ate it. Chocolate is also a legitimate mood booster, according to research.
One study found that participants who ate chocolate experienced increased positive feelings, compared to participants who ate cookies. However, it is not yet clear whether it is due to the compounds in chocolate or simply because the delicious taste makes people happy.
The bottom line on foods to boost your brain & memory
Many foods can help keep your brain healthy. Some foods, like the fruits and vegetables on this list, as well as tea and coffee, have antioxidants that help protect your brain from damage. Others, like nuts and eggs, contain nutrients that support memory and brain development. You can help maintain brain health and improve alertness, memory, and mood by strategically including these foods in your diet.