Your mother was right: leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli contain brain-friendly nutrients like folic acid, choline and vitamin K that promote brain health. Plus, they’re high in antioxidants called glucosinolates that may protect against inflammation, brain cell damage and cognitive decline.
Fatty fish such as salmon provide essential omega-3 fatty acids to support mood and memory function, so try eating at least twice each week.
Nuts are an ideal treat for anyone seeking to improve their brain. Packed full of omega-3 fatty acids which support mental wellbeing, nuts have also been shown to lower cardiovascular disease risks and boost mental wellbeing.
Three cross-sectional studies revealed a strong inverse association between nuts consumption and levels of CRP, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and fibrinogen. Nuts are a staple component of many healthy diets such as the Mediterranean Diet or vegetarianism diets.
People typically associate nuts with peanuts, pecans and almonds – however these foods don’t qualify as true nuts. Only certain plants qualify as true nuts with seeds enclosed within hard shells that don’t split open easily such as walnuts, hazelnuts and pine nuts – some examples being walnuts hazelnuts and pine nuts.
A healthy diet that incorporates these foods will nourish both the mind and other organs, including the cardiovascular system. It is best to limit processed snacks such as cookies and candy which can lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar and impair concentration, instead eating plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy fats for maximum effect.
2. Whole Grains
Just like your car needs premium fuel, so too must your brain. Unfortunately, too much low-grade fuel could put both you and your brain at risk from oxidative stress, inflammation and other health complications.
Whole grains offer your body a healthy source of carbs to support cognitive function, as well as fiber and heart-healthy fats. Incorporating more whole grains into your diet by choosing foods like brown rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal or wheat bread that feature “whole grain” as their first ingredient; additionally look for crackers labelled “whole grain.”
Leafy green vegetables contain antioxidants to combat free radicals – chemicals which damage cells and may eventually lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Try to incorporate spinach, kale and darkly colored veggies like tomatoes into your daily diet for best results.
3. Healthy Fats
As with an expensive car, your brain requires premium fuel. Consuming subpar products may affect how you think and lead to depression or other mental health conditions; diets high in refined sugars tend to slow the formation of new neurons and exacerbate mood disorders.
Conversely, diets rich in healthy fats such as omega-3 (found in nuts, seeds and fish) can boost cognitive function and lower depression levels. Omega-3 fatty acids improve binding of neurotransmitters that allow brain cells to respond quickly to stimuli.
Even as more research into the effects of food on our brains continues, we do know that eating a well-balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats is crucial to mental fitness. Avoid foods high in refined flour that could irritate you or increase heart disease risks; enjoy fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, nuts seeds berries cruciferous veggies dark chocolate and fatty fish to strengthen and preserve a strong and healthy brain.
Scientists are becoming more and more aware that diet has an enormous impact on cognitive functioning. Studies have demonstrated how eating a diet rich in fish, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains can improve cognitive performance and can enhance cognitive performance.
Diets low in omega-3 fatty acids may have adverse effects on our brain. Omega-3s play an essential role in brain cell membrane health and mood regulation. Fish is the best source of omega-3s; particularly salmon, trout, herring, sardines and tuna. Fish also provides valuable sources of protein, iodine, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, selenium calcium magnesium potassium.
Recent discoveries in molecular biology have demonstrated that certain foods can directly impact key molecules involved in synaptic plasticity. A diet high in saturated fat reduces SIRT2 enzyme activity, which helps preserve DNA integrity and encourage expression of genes associated with cognitive function. A Mediterranean Diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as olive oil, vegetables and whole grains could possibly enhance cognitive performance.
Leaves like spinach and kale as well as colorful fruits and vegetables like blueberries and broccoli all provide essential brain-enhancing nutrients. Not only are they low-cal sources of protein and fiber, but also boast plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – which all aid brain health!
Tufts Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and Rush University Medical Center recently conducted a joint study that revealed those who regularly consume one serving of leafy greens (half cup cooked or 1 cup raw) had slower rates of cognitive decline compared to those who rarely consumed leafy greens, likely due to higher intakes of folate, lutein, phylloquinone and vitamin C – nutrients believed to play an integral part in providing this protection against cognitive decline.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage contain compounds known as glucosinolates that when broken down produce isothiocyanates that can reduce oxidative stress on both brain and body, one reason why experts advise including them in your diet. Furthermore, these vegetables are rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium – essential elements that promote blood circulation to the brain and thus are high sources of neuronutrition.