If you’re wondering if there is such thing as brain foods, which food would it be, or what specific effects it would have on you, then you should read this!
The main thing is about knowing what you are eating in details, what it does to your body and be able to determine which aliment is going to make you more focus, alert and concentrated.
In fact, some food can definitively be considered as bad for you, others can improve your health or your cognitive capabilities. Knowing what you are eating is the key!
First of all, if you want to have a healthy brain, you should have a healthy body. Main advise is to drink lots of water to hydrate all your body and muscles, including your brain! Water will give the electrical energy for all the brain functions, for example memory and thoughts. It will help you to think faster, be more focus and creative.
If you’re not the water kind of person, you can add a little bit of lemon essential oil in order to maximize the effects. Check this article to know 6 amazing health benefits of lemon essential oil.
With all that said, let’s get started with the 10 best foods you should eat and that will definitively boost your brain:
1. Blueberries – The Super Brain Food
Blueberries, also called “Brainberries” by Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, are one of the best brain food. Not only they are really tasty but full of several vitamins, like vitamins C and K. These vitamins are not stored by our bodies and need to be daily replenished.
Antioxidants are really important for our bodies, they protect us from the damaging effects of free radicals, which are molecules that contribute to aging or disease like cancer. In contrast with other fruits, blueberries are fruits with one of the highest antioxidant capacities. Flavonoids, which is the main antioxidant found in blueberries, is famous for its health benefits on the vascular system and brain.
Many studies have proven the efficiency of blueberries on human’s brain and health. For example, this study conducted on animals proved that blueberries “positively impact learning and memory”. After conducted an experiment on animals, Tufts Researchers also reported that blueberry helps to learn faster and improve the motor skills. This other study showed that “the consumption of blueberries has been reported to prevent oxidative stress”. Oxidative stress is accelerating the brain’s aging process and has negative effects on the brain. Blueberries supplements are also improving memory in older adults, due to anthocyanins which have antioxidants and increase the memory function.
That’s not all! Blueberries also have many other benefits. For example, due to its high level of fiber, it will reduce the risk of diabetes. Thanks to its antioxidant components, it will reduced the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases. Finally, it may work to reduce the effects of age-related disease, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia due to the actions of flavonoid.
How to eat blueberries?
That’s the best part! Blueberries can be eaten fresh, frozen or dried. Either way, they will have the same benefits for your healt.
You can simply eat some with a healthy porridge at breakfast, make a smoothie or prepare some fresh ones for after meal snack, it will keep you active all afternoon!
If you need some inspiration: check these 3 healthy blueberry breakfasts ideas you’ll want to try!
2. Boosting Dark Chocolate
Of course, we’re talking here about truly dark chocolate (at least 70% of cocoa), sorry for the sugary milk chocolate lovers! Chocolate, also called “food of gods” by Linnaeus, has many proven brain benefits.
First of all, it stimulates the release of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, which make you feel good and has a positive impact on the mood. So basically, eating dark chocolate makes you a happier person and has antidepressant effects.
Dark chocolate is also a good stimulant for the brain. Indeed, it contains caffeine from its cocoa beans. For example, one 100g bar of 72% dark chocolate contains between 60 / 80 mg of caffeine. In comparison, there is generally between 150 / 200 mg of caffeine in an americano coffee. It also contains a molecule called theobromine, which doesn’t affect the nervous system like caffeine. It will make you feel more alert and focus, without having the negative side effect of caffeine.
Cocoa, which is the main ingredients of dark chocolate, provides rich nutritional properties taken from its minerals, antioxidants, and even psychoactive compounds. In fact, cocoa beans are a concentrated source of antioxidants, in particular flavonoids. That’s why dark chocolate has direct antioxidant effects. They display several beneficial actions on the brain and improve your cognitive capabilities.
Increasing data show that chocolate consumption improves brain function. It has been showed that countries with more chocolate consumers may produce significantly more Nobel laureates, possibly through enhanced cognition.
Hence, dark chocolate generates physiological effects on the brain and promotes and maintain health. It can be considered as a Medi-Food.
In addition to all of these brain benefits, flavonoids which are found in dark chocolate help to preserve cognitive abilities during aging, lower the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, decrease the risk of stroke and has anti-inflammatory properties.
How to eat dark chocolate?
If you’re craving some dark chocolate, you can simply take a square and eat it after your lunch. However, if you have more time and imagination, you can use dark chocolate in many recipes for healthy breakfasts, snacks or desserts.
If you need some inspiration: check these 4 guilt-free dark chocolate snacks that will blow your mind!
3. Wild Atlantic Salmon
Fish lovers, this one is for you! To be precise, we’re talking here about real wild Atlantic salmon, as farm raised or regular wild salmon can be filled with harmful toxins.
Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which our brains love! They are considered as the “good” type of fats. These acids play an important part in the cognitive function. Indeed, it has been proven that omega-3 levels are linked to better cognitive functioning and to healthier blood vessels in the brain. According to this other study, adults aged under 25 who increased their omega-3 dose over 6 months improved their scores on working memory performance.
Note that the most effective and active omega-3 fats are EPA and DHA, which occur naturally in oily fish. These Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are not naturally produced by our body, that’s why it’s really important to eat some through your diet. EPA and DHA have many health benefits including improving cardiovascular capabilities, brain development and cognitive functions.
According to nutritionist Julie Daniluk, “pink fish is also packed with amino acid tryptophan”. This amino acid helps to produce serotonin, which will make you feel good and happy. The more you eat fatty oily fish, the better your mood will be!
How to eat wild atlantic salmon?
You can eat cooked fish or oil fish, it will basically have the same nutrition facts. It’s recommended to eat at least 2 or 3 times fish per week.
Note that some others fish also have same health benefits as salmon, such as tuna, sardines, trout or mackerel.
If you need some inspiration, check these 4 delicious recipes packed with omega-3!
4. Powerful Avocados
Avocados are definitively the new star fruit this past year. Despite it’s becoming a really famous fruit, few people will actually know the true benefits of eating avocados and why it’s really good for the brain.
These buttery fruits are full of monounsaturated fats, which are the “good” fat type. Indeed, these specific fats, unlike other fats, are able to raise HDL, which is the “good” cholesterol, and lower LDL, which is the “bad” cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats also contribute to a healthy blood flood and helps to enhance communication between brain cells. This way, heart and brain get the blood they need to perform at maximum capacity. That’s why avocados provide an ideal source of energy as it’s high in healthy unsaturated fats, proteins and low in sugar!
That’s not all! Avocados are also packed with fiber and minerals, such as potassium and magnesium. In fact, an avocado contains more total fiber and soluble fiber per gram than almost all other foods. All of these supplements will help to increase your energy level, improve heart health and to de-stress.
In addition to these awesome benefits, avocados also contain vitamin K and Folate. They will help prevent brain disease and improve cognitive functions, like memory and concentration. These green powerhouses provide also vitamin A, B, C and E that aren’t stored in our bodies and need to be consumed each day.
Other side effects of avocados can be: protection from age-related disease and oxidative stress thanks to its highest levels of antioxidants such as Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Glutathione; support of cardiovascular health; improve weight management and healthy aging; additional benefit to those who have an increased exposure for metabolic disease risk.
How to eat avocados?
It’s recommended to eat 1/2 avocado per day.
Avocados are really tasty and you can eat them in so many ways: add them to a breakfast toast, to salad or even desserts!
If you need some inspiration, check these 4 simple, easy and healthy avocado recipes you’ll want to try!
5. Brainful Broccoli
And here comes the greens! You knew that you couldn’t escape them. Broccolis are one of the most amazing leafy green vegetables for your brain. So start to listen to your mum and go eat a big bowl of them if you want to get your energy level up!
Broccolis are packed with vitamin K and choline. Choline is a dietary component essential for normal function of all cells in our bodies. They both have an important action in our nervous system. Indeed, there is now data that suggest that vitamin K has the potential to influence cognitive capabilities and that choline has long-term beneficial effects on memory. Basically, choline will help to improve memory function.
Another really good nutrients in broccoli is vitamin C. Most famous role of vitamin C is that it will protect the immune system, reduces the severity of allergic reactions and helps to fight off infections. It’s also important to notice that vitamin C is the most plentiful antioxidant for human skin. Few people will know but vitamin C has also the power to increase mental agility. Indeed, supporting a healthy vitamin C level can protect you against age related decline!
Last but not least, broccolis are full with fiber. Benefits of adding fiber into your diet are numerous as it plays an important part in normal laxation, body weight and immune function. A healthy body means a healthy brain, which is the first thing when it comes to be focus and concentrated at the most.
Except the benefits regarding the brain, broccoli also prevents from oxidative stress level, protects against brain degeneration (dementia and Alzheimer’s) and improve bone formation and bone health thanks to its high level of vitamins C and K. Broccolis are also perfect for fighting against breast cancer, inflammation and heart disease, as vitamin K and choline intake may reduce cardiovascular risk.
How to eat broccoli?
It’s recommended to eat 3/4 of a cup for a daily intake.
You can eat broccoli in many ways, such as grilled, steamed, or even in gratin.
If you need some inspiration, check these 4 lunch recipes that’ll make you turn instantly into a broccoli lover!
6. Crazy Walnuts
Nuts in general are a rich source of so many important healthy nutrients associated with several health benefits. In public opinion, it’s often said that nuts are not that healthy because they contain fats, which they do, but it’s unsaturated fat, which is the “good” type of fat. They also provide our bodies with high quality vegetable protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. And above all, they taste great!
Walnuts are maybe one of the best nuts. First, it has been proven that eating a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health and functions. Indeed, this study showed that walnuts may improve working memory (not just reference memories), problem-solving and motor function. Harvard Gazette also published an article about a research by the New England Journal of Medicine that found that one ounce of nuts each day could make the difference between living 80 to 90. So basically, walnuts have beneficials effects on our brains and make us live longer!
Vitamin E, which is contained in high level in walnuts, is an antioxidant that may trap free radicals that can damage brain cells, explains the Alzheimer’s Research Center. This specific vitamin also helps to fight against oxidative stress, which accelerate the brain’s aging process and has negative effects on the brain. Finally, this study suggests that a good intake of vitamin E might help to prevent cognitive decline, in particular with the elderly.
Another active compound in walnuts are omega-3 fatty acids. They are improving cognitive function and the connection between our blood vessels in the brain. Indeed, this study showed that young adults under 25 who increased their omega-3 consumption over the last 6 months significatively improved their scores on the working memory performance.
These nuts also have many other health benefits. For example, they promote cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol risks, and have anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been proven that nuts should be included in a healthy diet. Walnuts, eaten with moderation, are not compromising weight loss or maintenance but in contrary, help to manage these actions!
How to eat walnuts?
It has been recommended to eat daily about 25 / 30 grams of nuts.
You can eat them in many ways: add to your fresh chia breakfast, sprinkle some into your lunch salad, simply snack some during afternoon or add them to a healthy brownie dessert.
If you need some inspiration, check these 3 amazing smoothie recipes perfect to boost your brain power!
7. Brighty Eggs
Another adding to the list of food boosting your brainpower, focus and memory definitively is egg. Most people will try to avoid eggs because it’s said it has a high level of cholesterol. Indeed, eggs contain some, but studies showed that eating some have absolutely no effect on the cholesterol levels of healthy adults. Indeed, it might even help raise good cholesterol levels.
First thing, eggs are a really good source of excellent quality proteins, fats and micronutrients and offer a moderate calorie source (about 150 kcal / 100 g). They play a fundamental part in basic nutrition by providing 18 vitamins and minerals that affect directly several factors such as diet, age, and strain.
Did you know that just one egg yolk contains about 115 mg of choline? Eggs are an important source of lecithin and are one of the few food sources that contain high concentrations of choline, which is a required nutrient that is essential for the normal development of the brain and leads to improve memory function.
Like salmon and walnuts, eggs are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular EPA and DHA. These active nutrients have many health benefits including improving cardiovascular capabilities, brain development and cognitive functions. Omega-3s fatty acids also contain anti-inflammatory substances and prevent Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
Lastly, eggs are full with B vitamin, which effects are particularly prevalent to numerous aspects of brain function, including energy production. Indeed, B vitamin plays a key part in interacting in the majority of cellular functions, including our brain. Many studies have shown that vitamin B is impacting positively the cognitive function.
Other side health effects of eggs are: eggs are antioxidant as they contain carotenoids which are composed of carotene. It prevents from age-related eye disease. In addition to that, eggs may also decrease the risk of having a stroke and have antidepressant effect, at least on rats!
How to eat eggs?
You can eat your eggs boiled, poached, fried, scrambled… The only secret is to pick only free range eggs (organic ones are even better).
If you need some inspiration, check these 4 delicious recipes packed with omega-3!