this post is going to be a little bit different. Just recently I came across this thing called brain food. I always knew that Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our brain and that walnuts in some way also improve our brain functions. But apparently there is a lot more to this. I started digging a little bit deeper and found out that some food products are very beneficial not just to our physical body, but also to our mind.
People often say ‘you are what you eat’ and this saying did not come from nowhere. What you eat directly affects your body and your brain. Some foods are rich in antioxidants, minerals, good fats and vitamins that protect your brain and others can create a mental fog.
Brain performance expert – Jim Kwik always says how important it is to have a balanced diet for the mental clearness and Neal Barnard, M.D. and a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, suggests that some foods can reduce the risk for memory problems such as Alzheimer’s disease and other brain related disorders. Neal Barnard also suggests that right food can help people improve brain functionality and restore already damaged parts of it.
What kind of food products are they mostly referring to? I made a list of top 10 brain foods they mention. This list in not numbered from most important to least important. All of these foods are beneficial in its own way and in my opinion, everyone should have it in their diet. So let’s look into it.
Blueberries or as Jim Kwik calls it ‘brain berries’ are not just low in calories, but are also very nutritious. Only one cup of blueberries contains 24% of Recommended Daily Intake (further RDI) of Vitamin C, 36% Vitamin K of the RDI, 25% Manganese of the RDI and 4 grams of fiber.
Blueberries are a King of antioxidant foods and are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels among the most common fruits and vegetables. It helps to protect the brain from free radicals, the unstable molecules, which can damage the cells and contribute to aging and disease, such a cancer. By neutralizing some free radicals, blueberries also helps to protect the DNA from being damaged, which slows down cellular aging.
Blueberries also reduce levels of the oxidized LDL cholesterol, which contributes in reduced risk for a heart disease. It can also improve brain functions and memory. Studies have also shown that regular consumption of blueberries and strawberries were linked to delays in mental aging by up to 2.5 years.
Avocado is a fatty fruit with a very high nutritional value. Avocados, despite many other great components, are rich in folate, which helps to ensure a good blood circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain. Good blood circulation can also reduce the risk of depression, mood swings and improve the quality of sleep.
Broccoli does not get enough love for the help it provides for our body and brain. Broccoli is a source of two crucial components for our brain. These components are Vitamin K, which helps strengthen our cognitive abilities and Choline, which has been found to improve our memory. Studies have also shown that components in broccoli can help to restore brain after traumatic injury and reduce brain swelling.
#4 Coconut oil
Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides which are metabolized a little bit differently than most types of fat. It breaks down into ketones which can be used as a fuel for the brain. Usually, glucose is being used as a fuel for the brain and ketones can be described as a back up fuel source when body is running low of glucose.
Eggs are a great source or several nutrients essential to our brain like vitamins B6 and B12, choline and folate. As mentioned before, choline is used by our bodies to help regulate the mood and memory and folate helps to ensure a good blood circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain,
#6 Green Leafy Vegetables
Research done by National Institutes of Health has shown that regular consumption of green leafy vegetables is closely linked slower age-related cognitive decline.
Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient to our brain. Omega-3 fatty acids found in marine oils, contain decosahexaenoic acid or DHA. a primary structural component of human brain, cerebral cortex, skin and retina. Metabolically, human body is incapable of making DHA on its own, so it must be obtained from the diet. DHA levels in the brain also decline with the age and is linked to memory loss, mood disorders, cognitive decline, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), reduced brain volume and Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps boosting antioxidant levels and keep you immune system healthy. It also improves brain’s oxygen intake. Despite all the benefits turmeric has, it should be consumed in moderation. Consumption of large amounts may upset the stomach. People who take blood-thinning drugs should also avoid consuming large amounts of turmeric because of its blood-thinning properties.
Walnuts have a high concentration of DHA, a type of Omega-3 fatty acid. As mentioned before, DHA helps to improve cognitive performance in adults and reduce age-related cognitive decline. Research has also shown that people with walnuts and walnut oil in their diet had lower resting blood pressure and lower blood pressure response to stress.
#10 Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is very nutritious. It is rich in iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. It is a powerful source of antioxidants (polyphenols, flavanols and catechins etc.). It also raises HDL (good cholesterol) and protects LDL (bad cholesterol) from oxidation. Studies have also shown that eating high-flavanol cocoa can improve blood flow to the brain. It can also improve cognitive functions and verbal fluency in elderly people. The most important thing is to find a high quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. Good quality chocolate’s cocoa percentage may differ from 70 to 85%. Also remember to use dark chocolate in moderation.
So there you go, these are the top 10 brain foods. Please leave a comment if you know any other great brain foods and let me know, if you noticed any difference after introducing these foods into your diet.