A healthy mind goes a long way in helping us in every aspect of daily life—relationships, work, play, and even rest. Eating the right foods plays a big role in keeping your mind healthy. Brain-boosting foods most often contain antioxidants, vitamins, and omega fatty acids. The list below includes a wide variety of foods that fall into the category of brain boosters.
Oily and Fatty Fish
These include salmon, trout, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines. Fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which helps build membranes around each cell in the body. Therefore, they also improve the structure of brain cells.
FACT: Fish is the only natural source of getting vitamin D. A single serving of salmon gives you 66% of your daily amount.
This is good news for chocolate lovers, but be aware that this only applies to dark chocolate (having a 70% or greater cocoa content). Cocoa or Cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, which is important for brain health. Age related memory decline, as well as brain diseases, are often caused by oxidative stress. So foods like dark chocolate containing antioxidants are good combaters for such stress.
FACT: Recommended intake is 20-30 grams per day so don't overdo it!
Good news again with this one! The two main components in coffee are caffeine and antioxidants, both of which are great for brain health. Caffeine blocks a substance in the brain called adenosine, which makes a person feel sleepy. Caffeine also increases brain entropy which helps it process more information. The antioxidants in coffee particularly support brain health as one ages. They reduce the risk of cognitive decline, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
FACT: For best health results, experts say to have 4-5 cups of coffee per day. Drink up!
Blueberries, strawberries, black berries, and mulberries are the deeply colored berries that are chock full of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These act against both stress and inflammation, conditions that often contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Berries are a good food to eat alone. You can also sprinkle them over other foods such as cereal or yogurt.
FACT: One cup of blueberries contains 21 grams of carbohydrates
Nuts and Seeds
These are rich sources of the antioxidant Vitamin E, which protect cells from oxidative stress originating in the brain. Sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts contain the highest amount of vitamin E. Nuts and seeds are also full of healthy fats and other antioxidants. Eating nuts improves heart health, which in turn is linked to having a healthy brain. A 2014 study found that women who ate nuts regularly for several years had sharper memories than those who did not.
FACT: Walnuts, compared to other nuts, have significantly more omega-3 fatty acids.
This vegetable should be called a wonder vegetable. It is a low-calorie source of dietary fiber and great for the brain. Broccoli contains compounds (glucosinolates to be specific!), which reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Broccoli is also rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, K, and flavonoids, all of which are brain boosters.
FACT: A cup of broccoli only has 31 calories!
Eggs contain many nutrients that are good brain boosters such as vitamins B6, B12, folate, and choline. B vitamins slow mental decline during aging, and a lack of these vitamins has been linked to depression. Vitamin B12 is involved in synthesizing brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels in the brain. Choline helps the body produce acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter essential for brain and nervous system functions including memory, muscle control, and mood. Egg yolks contain a high concentration of choline.
FACT: Eating eggs helps to increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
Avocados, a healthy food on many levels, are a good source of unsaturated fat which keeps blood pressure under control. They are also rich in vitamins C, E, K, and B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. All of these are positive brain boosters. Avocados are great for reducing bad cholesterol. Guacamole is a fan favorite for consuming avocados, but they are also delicious with eggs or on salads.
FACT: An avocado has almost double the amount of potassium than a banana!
These grains are a great source of vitamin E, which decreases oxidative stress thereby improving cognitive thinking and memory. The best sources of whole grains are brown rice, barley, oatmeal, whole grain bread, and whole grain pasta. Oats, barley, and quinoa are also rich in B vitamins that help reduce inflammation in the brain and improve memory.
FACT: Whole grains, being high in fiber, are very "filling" foods and can help reduce appetite for effective dieting.
Eating one medium orange a day will give almost all the vitamin C you need. Vitamin C is key in preventing mental decline so oranges are important for brain health. One study shows that higher levels of vitamin C improve focus, memory, attention, and decision speed. The antioxidant fights off free radicals that can damage brain cells, and gives good support to the brain as it ages.
FACT: A medium-sized orange contains 4 ounces of water.