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by Lori Herren March 04, 2021 6 min read

If you can’t remember why you started to read this article, then you came to the right place! We laugh and make jokes about our own memory loss and brain fog and how getting older just makes you more forgetful. How much of that is age and how much is a result of our body not getting the nutrients our brain needs to be productive and keep us sharp and alert? You hear the term “food for your brain,” but is that really a thing? It absolutely is and you will see just how many foods contribute to the cognitive function of your brain. Believe it or not, the brain actually uses about twenty percent of the calories the body takes in each day! Make sure the calories it gets come from nutritious sources. Not sure what those may be? Let’s take a look!

Vegetables

No doubt that your parents and teachers told you over and over again to eat your vegetables to make you smarter. They weren’t wrong! Vegetables are good and necessary for you in many ways. Here are some veggies that are good brain foods for you:

  • Broccoli - This vegetable really packs a punch in nutrients, especially those that are involved in your brain health. Broccoli has MANY anti oxidants, as well as high levels of vitamin K, which is a fat soluble vitamin that is needed to create sphingolipids, which are a kind of fat that makes up brain cells. Medical studies done on older adults who had high levels of vitamin K had better memory quality than those without. 
  • Kale
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Turnips
  • Bok Choy

 

Fruits

Fruits are a good, healthy choice when we really want something sweet. Not only do they cover your sweet craving, they also prove to be good brain foods:

  • Blueberries - For a tiny little fruit, blueberries are overflowing with great nutrients. Blueberries contain anthocyanins, which are compounds found in plants that have anti inflammatory effects and  antioxidants. Both of these compounds fight against inflammation and oxidative stress which can cause aging of the brain and neurodegenerative diseases. Several of the antioxidants from blueberries have been found to gather in the brain and improve how brain cells work together, help enhance memory and slow down short term memory loss.
  • Oranges - It’s no secret that oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, a medium size orange has an entire day’s supply, but did you know that vitamin C is an ESSENTIAL nutrient for stopping the decline of mental brain health. Eating foods that are high in vitamin C can help protect you from Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases of mental decline that come in aging years. As you grow older, vitamin C protects your brain health and has the power to help combat free radicals that can cause damage to your brain cells.

Some other berries that are high in antioxidants and good for brain health are:

  • Strawberries
  • Mulberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blackcurrants

 

Fish

It’s pretty common knowledge that fish is good for you, but sometimes we don’t understand how. Fish that is high in omega 3 fatty acids are especially good for you and good for your brain health. Omega 3 fatty acids don't sound like something that is beneficial to your body, but they truly are. Interesting fact to learn, our brains are made up of about 60% fat and half of that fat is made up of omega 3 fatty acids. Our brain needs these omega 3 fats because it uses them in several important ways: 

  • They help build nerve and brain cells, making these kinds of fats essential for memory and learning in your brain.
  • They help to slow down mental decline in senior years, including Alzheimer’s disease
  • A lack of omega 3 can lead to depression and learning problems

 

What are our best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids?

  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna

 

Nuts And Seeds

Feel like you need a little crunchy snack or a topper for your salad? Don’t miss the great, natural snacks that are nuts and seeds. Packed with a lot of flavor, these bite size snacks are gifts from nature because of the nutrients and help they provide to your body. Which ones should you choose? Here’s a little nudge towards those that can help your brain health and brain function.

  • Pumpkin seeds - These little “hidden gems” are something you should consider adding to your snack menu. Pumpkin seeds are full of antioxidants, which we already know are crucial to protecting the body and brain from damage that can be caused by free radicals. They are also spilling over with other key essential nutrients: magnesium, zinc, copper and iron. Magnesium is key in brain health for memory and learning. People who have low levels of magnesium can experience depression, epilepsy, migraines, and different neurological diseases. Zinc is a key nutrient for nerve signaling. A deficiency of zinc can be traced to the development of Parkinson’s disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Copper is another essential nutrient that your brain uses to guide nerve signals. Iron is also vital because without it, there is a hindrance on brain function, and a greater risk of brain fog.
  • Walnuts are great for you and for your brain function because they contain omega 3 fatty acids that are so good for your brain health.
  • Nuts - Eating nuts is known to be good for your heart but they are also good for your brain health as well. Nuts provide vitamin E, antioxidants and healthy fats that contribute to good brain health and brain function. Almonds and Hazelnuts are great examples of healthy snacks for your brain.

 

Random Things You Might Not Think Of

Interested in adding more brain foods to your diet to help your brain function but haven’t quite seen your favorite stuff yet? We hear you! Here’s some more brain foods that you will be happy to see make the list and some might just surprise you:

  • Coffee - Coffee lovers rejoice, your coffee addiction just might be helping your brain health! Coffee has two components that are beneficial to your brain: antioxidants and caffeine. Caffeine itself is proven to help you concentrate, put you in a better mood, and keeps you alert and not tired. Coffee’s high levels of antioxidants and those that drink it for a long time have lower risks of neurological diseases.
  • Turmeric - You can't miss turmeric because it’s bright yellow color, and it has become a hot topic of conversation in its medicinal properties. Turmeric’s most active ingredient is called curcumin and it has been found to make a crossover into the brain blood barrier, which means it actually enters the brain and provides health benefits to the brain itself. Medical experts have found it to be a very strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient that has been proven to reduce depression, improve memory (even in those with Alzheimer’s disease), and stimulates growth of new brain cells.
  • Dark Chocolate - Dark chocolate has several brain helping buddies like antioxidants, flavonoids and caffeine. Flavonoids are a group of powerful antioxidants that come from plants and they help to congregate in your brain and fight off free radicals, while improving learning and memory. And honestly, chocolate just makes you happy on top of all its health benefits!
  • Eggs - Eggs really are a power food for your health, containing a lot more necessary nutrients than most people realize. Eggs offer vitamin B12, vitamin B6, choline, and folate. Choline isn’t mentioned very often but it should be. Choline is found in its most strongest form in egg yolks and improves mood and memory. The B vitamins help put a halt in the loss of metal cognitivity in seniors and also helps ease the effects of depression.
  • Green Tea - Green tea has caffeine which we know gives the brain a good shot of being awake and aware, but it also can boost your memory, reduce stress and anxiety, help you relax, all the while reducing your chances of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Smart Choices

We have covered a LOT of brain boosting foods today, ones that can help make your brain healthy, improve memory and may help protect you from the neurological disorders that steal the memory and joy from seniors today. It’s amazing the science behind the foods we eat and how we take care of our bodies and how that makes an impact on what our health can be in the future. Make the decision to fill your diet full of good things now so your future self can thank you for it by living a long, full life!

 

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This article is intended to provide an understanding of and knowledge about “health topics” as expressed through the perspective and research of the author. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or counsel, including the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, illness or treatment of any listed or non listed situation above. By using this site, you signify your assent to our Terms and Conditions.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower

 

Lori Herren
Lori Herren

Lori D. Herren is a graduate of the University of West Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications for Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, with minors in Marketing and Music. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her love of music.


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