“You are what you eat” is a true statement, especially when it comes to brain food. But you might be surprised to learn how much the food you eat affects your mental performance. Certain foods are even more important for brain function, particularly when it comes to memory and preventing memory-related illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s. So here are just a few of the best brain foods we think you might want to add to your diet:
1. Avocado. This tasty fruit is rich in vitamin E and vitamin C; two antioxidants that can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s1. Avocados are also rich in omega-6 fatty acids which increases blood flow to the brain to help your body absorb antioxidants better. Avocados also contain vitamin K and potassium, both of which protect your brain from a stroke2.
2. Berries. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or any kind of berry have many health benefits. Specifically when it comes to your brain, berries have antioxidants called flavanoids that help your memory and overall brain function3. Berries particularly help your brain get rid of toxic proteins that add to memory loss4.
3. Coconut Oil. The immediate effect of coconut oil on the brain comes from the medium chain triglycerides that provide energy in the form of glucose. The anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil may play a role in preventing dementia5.
4. Dark chocolate. Similar to berries, cocoa has flavanols that protect your brain from mental decline6. Studies showed that test groups with less flavanol didn't show the same positive results as those with higher flavanol chocolate. A square or two a day is all you need to get the health benefits you need.
5. Fatty fish. Those omega-3 fatty acids you keep hearing about? Turns out they're amazing for the brain! In one study, participants who supplemented their diet with Omega 3’s had the cognitive function of someone three years younger7! DHA is the Omega 3 you’re really after for positive affects on your brain8. Salmon, herring and tuna are great options in this category.
6. Green vegetables. Veggies with vitamin C and folate are good for preserving brain function even into old age9. Spinach, kale, collard greens and broccoli are a few veggies that hit this mark. But you can’t go wrong with about any dark leafy green or cruciferous vegetable.
7. Olive Oil. You might not think of vitamin E as an antioxidant, but this vitamin is a powerful one that protects the neurons and nerve cells of your brain that would otherwise die at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease10.
8. Red wine. This is the news you’ve been waiting for -- an excuse for more wine! It’s a proven fact that drinking moderate amounts of red wine can reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s11 and protect you from having a stroke. Studies aren't sure if it's just the red wine or that people who drink red wine are healthier in general. Just remember, there are calories in wine. So know that a 5 oz. glass is all it takes to get the benefits.
9. Rosemary. Just smelling this fragrant herb is enough to boost brain function. Eating it adds the benefits of better blood flow to the brain and detoxification12.
10. Sunflower seeds. Another brain food with lots of vitamin E, eating just 1 ounce a day gets you 30% of the vitamin E you need13! For an even more potent dose of these benefits, try sunflower sprouts.
11. Tomatoes. The lycopene in tomatoes is an antioxidant known to fight dementia14. Turns out lycopene may also lower your risk for stroke. In a report published in the journal Neurology, a team of Finnish researchers linked lycopene levels in the blood to stroke protection15.
12. Walnuts. They look like a brain and turns out eating them has been proven to give your brain a significant edge over people who don’t. Participants in one study who ate walnuts outperformed nonwalnut eaters in six different tests16.
Choose a few of these powerful brain foods to eat every day. You might see short-term benefits, but ultimately eating brain food over the long-term could protect your brain and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
1. 9 Foods that May Help Save Your Memory. (n.d) http://www.health.com
2. Charlie Pulsipher. (October 21, 2013). 15 Foods to Improve Your Memory Naturally And Boost Brain Power. https://sunwarrior.com
3. Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD. (November 20, 2015). 4 Types of Foods to Help Boost Your Memory. http://www.eatright.org
4. 9 Foods that May Help Save Your Memory. (n.d.) http://www.health.com
5. Charlie Pulsipher. (October 21, 2013). 15 Foods to Improve Your Memory Naturally And Boost Brain Power. https://sunwarrior.com
6. Feeling Forgetful? (n.d). Eat These 5 Brain Boosting Foods. https://leaf.nutrisystem.com
7. Feeling Forgetful? (n.d). Eat These 5 Brain Boosting Foods. https://leaf.nutrisystem.com
8. 9 Foods that May Help Save Your Memory. (n.d) http://www.health.com
9. Feeling Forgetful? (n.d). Eat These 5 Brain Boosting Foods. https://leaf.nutrisystem.com
10. 9 Foods that May Help Save Your Memory. (n.d) http://www.health.com
11. 9 Foods that May Help Save Your Memory. (n.d) http://www.health.com
12. Dr. Josh Axe. (n.d.) 15 Brain Foods to Boost Focus and Memory. http://draxe.com
13. 9 Foods that May Help Save Your Memory. (n.d) http://www.health.com
14. Charlie Pulsipher. (October 21, 2013).15 Foods to Improve Your Memory Naturally and Boost Brain Power. https://sunwarrior.com
15. Heidi Godman. (October 10, 2012) Lycophene-Rich Tomatoes Linked to Lower Stroke http://www.health.harvard.edu/
16. Feeling Forgetful? (n.d). Eat These 5 Brain Boosting Foods. https://leaf.nutrisystem.com