What Is Brain Food? – Discover Top 16 Foods For A Healthy Brain
Some foods offer low calories so you can lose excess weight and maintain a slim figure. Other food items can pack the calories and protein so that you can really build huge muscles with the proper weightlifting regimen. Then there’s brain food — this refers to the food that makes your brain work better.
Brain-healthy foods are essential for everyone’s diet these days. The right food can help you with your work and with your daily life since you can boost your memory, focus better on tasks, and solve problems creatively. Not only that, but they can even help protect your brain from the mental effects of aging. So you get help now, and in the future as well.
What’s more, unlike some medications and supplements the most helpful brain-boosting foods don’t cause any serious side effects. As long as you keep things in moderation, you won’t have to go through any unwanted effects.
So what dishes and food items can you include in your brain-friendly diet?
The best brain food list:
These fruits are packed with so many important nutrients for the brain that some people regard it as the ideal brain food. It’s different from other fruits because it doesn’t contain mainly carbs. Instead, most of it is healthy monounsaturated fats. That’s also what you find in olive oil.
It also contains various vitamins that your brain needs to function properly. The vitamins found in avocado include vitamins C, E, and K, along with the B-complex vitamins. It’s also packed with tyrosine, and this is the precursor to dopamine that helps with your focus and motivation.
You can probably do well with half an avocado a day in your salad. You may want to avoid finishing off an entire avocado since a medium-sized one can contain a full third of your recommended fat intake for the day.
Did you grow up with parents insisting that you eat broccoli? As it turns out, your mom and dad were right. It’s not just full of vitamin C. It has choline, which can boost your memory. It also contains vitamin K that improves your cognitive abilities.
It also has a sizable amount of folic acid, and this can help you fight off Alzheimer’s disease as you get older. Meanwhile, you also don’t want to be deficient in your folic acid intake, since that can lead to depression.
Still, even with broccoli, it’s still a good idea to stick with moderate amounts instead of eating too much. You can eat several servings of half a cup for each week.
3. Coconut oil
While you can prepare some dishes with coconut oil, but just consume them directly. You can take 2 to 4 tablespoons every day to help boost your brain. While coconut oil does offer several health benefits, what has interested scientists are its medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can turn into ketones that boost cognitive functions. The ketones can reduce the oxidative stress and inflammation in your brain.
With lower amounts of coconut oil, you may be able to help fight off brain fog and memory issues. Higher amounts of coconut oil can reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. This is really good brain food for senior citizens.
4. Olive oil
Quite a few people don’t use olive oil anymore for cooking. That’s because at high temperatures it can start to decompose. However, you can use it at room temperature on your salads and your brain will thank you afterward.
This also contains monounsaturated fats, and these can help boost your memory and other cognitive functions and verbal memory. It also contains lots of vitamins K and E, and these are crucial for your memory and for fighting off mental decline due to aging.
Olive oil also increases your levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and BDNF can help counter depression and the effects of stress on your brain. It has more than 30 phenolic compounds which can act as antioxidants, and these can help in maintaining the health of your brain.
There’s also Oleocanthal, which is unique to olive oil. This ingredient can help rid the brain of the beta-amyloid proteins which are associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. So if you’re into salads, turn them into brain food snacks with some olive oil.
Turmeric is a kind of spice. Lots of spices are known as healthy food since they can act as foods for brain health because of their strong antioxidant function. But spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla, saffron, and garlic can’t quite match turmeric as food for the brain.
Turmeric contains more than a hundred known compounds and many of these have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also known to strengthen brain health. Turmeric also works well as an antidepressant, and in some ways, it can even be better than Prozac. Its additional advantage is that unlike medicinal antidepressants you don’t get side effects with turmeric, and you can also use it alongside other natural depression remedies.
Of all the compounds in turmeric, however, perhaps the most notable is curcumin. This increases the levels of BDNF in the brain. This not only accounts for turmeric’s antidepressant capabilities, but it’s also good in alleviating the effects of stress on your brain. The reduction in brain inflammation helps with improving brain function, and it can also break up the plaques in the brain that may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
You also can’t overlook turmerone, which is also present in turmeric. It helps with new neuron production, and it stimulates brain repair.To enjoy the brain benefits of turmeric, you can just use ¼ to ½ teaspoon of it in your cooking each day.
6. Dark Chocolate
There’s a preconception among many that healthy foods are invariably not as tasty and delicious as the foods that are bad for your health. That’s not really true with dark chocolate. As long as you pick really dark chocolate and you limit your daily intake to an ounce or two, you’re okay.
It’s true that it’s good for the heart because it contains flavonoid antioxidants. But for your brain, the important compound in chocolate is phenylethylamine (PEA). This is a brain chemical that you release when you’re feeling emotionally euphoric.
So when you eat dark chocolate, you’re not just happy because it tastes great. It can also make you feel less anxious and more relaxed, and that helps you think more clearly.
7. Nuts and Seeds
The main ingredient present in nuts and seeds that's good for your brain is vitamin E. It’s been found that if you enjoy higher vitamin E levels, the less likely you are to suffer from serious cognitive decline as you get older.
Just an ounce of nuts and seeds per day will do. What’s great is that you have lots of options, since you can try sunflower, sesame, or flax seeds. You can also snack on peanuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts.
For most people, it doesn’t really matter if you eat them roasted or raw. However, if you’re already on a diet with sodium restrictions, you’re better off with the unsalted varieties.
Various studies have revealed that these tasty berries contain antioxidants that can help in protecting your brain from oxidative stress. These can also reduce the severity of various age-related mental conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Other benefits in seniors include a considerable improvement in learning ability as well as in motor skills. So if you’re getting on in years, blueberries can basically help turn you mentally younger.
You can enjoy these benefits by enjoying a cup of blueberries each day. These berries can be in any form, whether freeze-dried, frozen, or fresh. You can also use them for your smoothies.
Beans aren’t famous as health foods that are good for your brain, but they ought to be. They’re also great because they’re not expensive. Their main benefit is that they provide glucose, which your brain needs as fuel.
Your brain can’t store the glucose, so you need to provide a constant supply and the beans can do that for you. Most types of beans will do, but for best results, you may want to try black beans and lentils. Half a cup of beans can do wonders.
10. Wild salmon
Salmon and other deep water fish contain huge amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids, and these nutrients are crucial for brain function. These omega-3s also have anti-inflammatory compounds.
Wild salmon is your best source of omega-3s because they’re not an endangered species, and they’re very clean. Other alternatives include herring and salmon. A serving of 4 ounces of wild salmon is great 2 to 3 times a week.
11. Whole grains
Whole grain bread and oatmeal are excellent in reducing the risk of heart disease. So how’s this relevant to your search for brain foods? What you can’t overlook is the obvious fact that each and every organ in your body is utterly dependent on blood flow, and that includes your brain.
Any food that promotes cardio health is also a food that’s good for your brain. Oatmeal and whole grain foods deserve special mention on this list because their benefits for your heart are so high. You can enjoy a slice of whole grain bread 2 or 3 times a day, along with half a cup of whole grain cereal.
12. Wheat germ
This is another good food for your heart. In addition, it contains vitamin E (good for your memory and to fight off Alzheimer’s) and also some omega-3s which are important for brain function. You don’t need a lot of wheat germ to enjoy the brain benefits. Two tablespoons a day and you’re all set.
Actually, here you can just include all the colorful fruits and vegetables. The vivid colors tell you that the Pomegranates are full of antioxidants which can keep the brain protected from being damaged by free radicals. It’s long been known that the brain is perhaps the most sensitive to free radicals damage among all the organs in your body.
While eating the pomegranates is good, it may be more convenient for you to consume it as a juice. This way, you can avoid the many tiny seeds. You don’t want to go overboard with pomegranate juice, however, because of the sugar content. You’re good with 2 ounces of the juice a day, and you should dilute the juice with spring water.
14. Egg Yolks
For so long people have avoided the egg yolks thinking that it’s not healthy due to cholesterol concerns. Now it’s been found that actually, eating eggs doesn’t really raise the cholesterol levels of healthy adults. Some even think it can help raise the levels of good cholesterol.
Egg yolk is also good for your brain because it contains huge amounts of choline. This compound breaks down into bethane that produces brain chemicals that are related to happiness. Pregnant women are also encouraged to enjoy eggs because the choline helps in the development of the fetal brain. Even unborn babies can get smarter with egg yolks.
For most healthy people who are trying to stay healthy, consuming 3 whole eggs per day is perfectly safe. You can always reduce your intake if you find your total cholesterol going higher.
15. Sea Vegetables
It’s hard to understand why sea vegetables like nori (purple laver) aren’t as famous as a super food as other foods. They contain all the 56 minerals you need to remain healthy. Nori also contains lots of vitamin B12 which is crucial for nerve and brain health.
It’s also one of the few natural sources of iodine, which is usually added to salt. Iodine deficiency can lead to low IQ. It contains tyrosine which is the precursor to dopamine. It also has Taurine which stimulates the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and this is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy and relaxed.
The usual serving of sea vegetables is a ½ teaspoon of powdered veggie, 1 teaspoon of flakes, or a ⅓ cup of the whole leaf.
Let’s end this list on what many consider a true superfood, especially for your brain. It contains lots of antioxidants that protect your brain. It’s a source of B vitamins that can help against memory loss, brain aging, and depression.
Its vitamin K can also help with verbal memory. It contains omega-3s too. A typical serving of kale is a single cup. That should work well enough so you can enjoy the benefits of this brain food.