Avocados include monounsaturated fatty acids (good fats) which contributes to healthy blood flow and helps protect nerve cells in the brain known as astrocytes, which provide support to information-carrying nerves. They are also known to preserve brain function by preventing stroke induced by high blood pressure. Avocados are high in calories, however, so if attempting to lose weight, eat only ½ per day.
Affectionately known as "Brainberries", they help protect the brain from oxidative stress. A diet rich in blueberries significantly improvesboth learning capacity and memory. The antioxidants stimulate the flow and oxygen to the brain, keeping the mind fresh up to five hours after eating. Include 1 cup per day in any form – fresh, frozen or freeze-dried. I also put the freeze dried ones in my protein balls.
Beans are humble but very smart and are often overlooked as a dietary measure. Not only are they loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein – they’re also cheap. They provide a steady slow release of glucose to your brain which means energy all day without the sugar crash.
Chia seeds are considered almost magical because they increase stamina and energy over long periods of time. And no wonder: chia seeds are nutritional champions—very low in calories, per kilo, they supply as much omega 3 fatty acids as equivalent amounts of wild salmon, 5 times more calcium than milk, 3 times more antioxidants than fresh blueberries, 3 times as much iron as spinach, and twice as much potassium as a banana—plus plenty of protein and a huge amount of fiber.
Dark Chocolate (Cacao) has brain-boosting compounds, is loaded with antioxidants, and has just the right amount of caffeine. Chocolate sends your serotonin levels soaring which improves your mood and makes you feel happier. Dark chocolate is also rich in fiber. Remember, fiber = healthy cardiovascular system = healthy brain. I opt for super dark, pure organic chocolate, not the sugary, processed milk chocolate in candy bars.
Coconut oil is obtained from the flesh of the coconut and is a healthy source of saturated fat which assists metabolism and weight control. Being overweight is said to be linked to a decline in cognitive function. I use coconut oil for cooking instead of olive oil or vegetable oil and also include it in smoothies, hummus and healthy deserts.
Dark Leafy Greens
e.g. Kale and spinach, cabbage and broccoli are all rich in iron and phytonutrients (natural-occurring chemicals in plants) that may help prevent disease and keep your body working as it should. Note: Kale is now on the list of
Eggs contain protein and fat to provide energy to your brain for hours, and the selenium in organic eggs is proven to help your mood. I choose organic, free range eggs for ethical reasons. I’ve seen way too many u-tube clips with chickens crammed in cages to feel comfortable about buying eggs that aren’t free- range.
Besides their crazy high fiber content, research suggests the omega 3’s in these seeds can help lower cholesterol thus reducing the risk of heart disease. Read on for benefits of Omega 3’s for the brain. I put flaxseed in my smoothies, protein balls and cereals which provides extra volume and nutrients.
Ginger root is a well recognised health marvel, mending everything from inflammation to cancer to diabetes. It also assists in improving brain function. It guards against brain oxidative stress and neurological diseases, so weather contending with age-related cognitive decline or toxic food additives, ginger is an exceptional protective root. Use it as a flavourful spice in cooking, in your favourite stir fry or brewed as a tea to help preserve brain and nerve health.
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world and has been used in Asia and North America for centuries. It's also now known to improve thinking, concentration, memory and physical endurance. Combine that with its use to help with depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue. Use the powdered form in a cup of brewed tea.
This bitter tasting fruit is a great source of the nutrient known as folic acid, which, research suggests, may enhance brain health. Some vitamins, like folic acid, are essential nutrients, meaning that the body cannot make them in sufficient quantities to meet its needs. You can’t make folic acid on your own, so you have to get it from eating food or taking supplements.
Garlic is one of the most potent nutritional weapons in your arsenal. Eat it as much as your significant other can stand. Not only is it fabulous for reducing bad cholesterol and strengthening your cardiovascular system, it exerts a protective antioxidant effect on the brain and can even fight bacteria more effectively than standard antibiotics. I try to always buy fresh (organic) from local markets as the chopped (bottled) versions have less nutritional benefits.
Grass Fed Beef
Beef contains a healthy amount of iron and helps transport oxygen throughout the body and to the brain. This enables better brain functioning. I enjoy beef (with a clear conscience), and splurge on healthier grass-fed cuts whenever possible.
Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain. The fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells.
Oysters are rich in selenium, magnesium, protein and several other nutrients vital to brain health. In one study researchers found that men who ate oysters reported significantly improved cognition and mood (particularly certain types of mood Ha Ha). Not all shellfish are good for you but oysters are a sure bet.
Known as nature’s “scrub brush”, oats are one of the best foods for cardiovascular health, which translates to brain health. Additionally, oatmeal is packed with fiber, contain a reasonable amount of protein and even a small amount of Omega-3’s. It’s a good grain that will sustain you throughout the morning so you aren’t prone to irritability or an energy crash. I choose to stay clear of the packet (especially the microwavable version) as they contain higher levels of sugar.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. They are necessary for human health, but the body can't make them. You have to get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and other seafood’s including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development.
Pomegranates contain blueberry-like levels of antioxidants, which are essential for a healthy brain. Your brain is the first organ to feel the effects of stress, so anything you can do to offset stress is probably a smart choice (although note that the connection between pomegranate juice and stress reduction is currently both contested and unconfirmed). I opt for the fruit over the juice so you get more fiber.
Sage contains compounds that prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory.
Try sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and tahini (a tangy, nutty sesame butter that tastes great in replacement of mayo and salad dressing). Seeds contain a lot of protein, beneficial fat, and vitamin E, as well as stress-fighting antioxidants and important brain-boosting minerals like magnesium. Once again I opt for organic and try to avoid the highly-seasoned, processed options. In general, things like fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts are pretty low-impact (environmentally speaking), in comparison to meats and cheeses.
Sweet potatoes are abundant in carotenoids which give it its rich orange colour. Because carotenoids function as both anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, intake of dietary components rich in carotenoids help improve cognitive functioning.
This spice is more the medicine for the mind. It’s well known for its role in reducing inflammation and protecting the brain against fluoride. I add Turmeric to curries, soups and sometimes smoothies and protein balls.
Tomatoes don’t usually make the brain-boosting food lists, but they contain lycopene, an antioxidant that is particularly good for your brain. They help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of Dementia. I choose the spray free version at local markets because most others contain high levels of pesticides.
Nuts contain protein, high amounts of fiber, and are rich in beneficial fats. For getting an immediate energy boost that won’t turn into a spike later, you can’t do better than nuts. The complex carbs will perk you up while the fat and protein will sustain you. Nuts also contain plenty of vitamin E, which is essential to cognitive function. Walnuts have the highest amount of antioxidants, some of which are even more powerful than Vitamin E.
Known as the “brain grain” quinoa offers plenty of iron which acts to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power. Considered to be an almost complete food, quinoa is high in protein, full of vitamins, gluten and is wheat free, cholesterol free, usually organic and of benefit to everyone. It’s vitamin B content can help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize mood. I like to put some quinoa in salads to add volume, texture and nutrients.
Drinking water and brain function are integrally linked. Lack of water to the brain can cause numerous symptoms including problems with focus, memory, brain fatigue and brain fog, as well as headaches, sleep issues, anger, depression, and much more. Over 70 percent of your body is composed of water and every function in the body is dependent on water, including the activities of the brain and nervous system. Water is also essential for delivering nutrients to the brain and for removing toxins. When the brain is fully hydrated, the exchange of nutrients and toxins will be more efficient—thus ensuring better concentration and mental alertness.