10 Types of Brain Food to Fuel Your Mind in More Ways Than One*
“Brain food” or “food for thought” are expressions with more meaning behind them than you might expect.
According to a recent Harvard Health story, 95% of serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. In other words, it truly matters what you put into your body. This brings to mind another favorite metaphorical expression: “You are what you eat.” To help boost both brain and body health, there are a few staples you can easily and mindfully integrate into your daily diet.
10 Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health, Focus, and More
Here are 10 foods that boost your brain functions and give you a healthy glow:
Nuts are loaded with vitamin E, which has been shown to help prevent cognitive dysfunction, particularly for older adults. Walnuts, in particular, have been shown to improve mental performance; the omega-fatty acids further support healthy brain function.
- Whole Grains
The brain requires energy to perform properly. Whole grains provide some of the best fuel for the body by slowly releasing glucose into your bloodstream. Consider this a gradual energy blast that will keep your brain consistently active and alert throughout the day.
Fish is the quintessential brain food. Oil-rich fish contain high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA. These support memory, brain function, and neurotransmitter regulation, which increases your ability to focus.
Egg yolks are an excellent source of choline, which supports the neurotransmitters that regulate memory. The protein in eggs is great for building overall cognitive function. Plus, the B vitamins in eggs reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a compound associated with Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment.
Blueberries and other dark berries, like black currants, house vitamin C, brain-healthy antioxidants, and protective compounds called anthocyanins. Eating blueberries has also been shown to delay memory loss.
Alpha-linolenic acid (also known as ALA) is a fatty acid that can improve the function of the cerebral cortex. Flaxseeds are the single strongest source of this healthy fat. Flaxseed intake can increase the brain’s ability to process sensory stimulation and information.
Spinach, the “superfood” poster child, is loaded with vitamins and minerals that support brain health. Leafy green vegetables, in general, are associated with reducing cognitive decline.
- Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds have a high concentration of zinc, a mineral that enhances memory and thinking capabilities. These seeds are also rich in magnesium, tryptophan, and B vitamins, all of which promote mental and emotional stability and reduce stress in the body.
Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin K and includes glucosinolate compounds. Vitamin K improves brain power, while glucosinolates have been shown to slow down the degeneration of acetylcholine neurotransmitters, which are needed for a healthy central nervous system and memory function.
The compounds in sage help to maintain acetylcholine. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated an association between sage and optimal concentration abilities.
Additional Food for Thought
Collectively, the healthy brain foods above can:
- Improve cognition
- Reduce the risk of certain diseases
- Function as powerful antioxidants for your body
- Improve memory
- Maintain healthy blood pressure
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