What does the food you eat have to do with how your brain functions? Turns out an awful lot. While we’ve always known that what we eat affects our bodies and how we look, scientists are also learning more and more that what we eat takes a toll on our brains. Yes, brain foods matter (especially for our gray matter).
But what does this all have to do with food? Our gut helps keep our body’s immune responses and inflammation under control. Additionally, gut hormones that enter the brain or are produced in the brain influence cognitive ability, like understanding and processing new information, staying focused on the task at hand and recognizing when we’re full.
12 Brain Foods to Boost Focus and Memory
Containing both vitamin K and folate, avocados help prevent blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improve cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration.
They’re also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit.
They reduce inflammation, are high in cancer-protecting antioxidants and help rid your blood of toxins. The natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. Plus, during tough workouts, beets actually help boost energy and performance levels.
Proving that great things do come in small packages, blueberries are a fruit I try to eat daily. That’s because they’ve got so many great health benefit ¬while tasting like an all-natural candy!
It’s one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods known to man, including vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress.
4. Bone Broth
Bone broth is the ultimate food for healing your gut and, in turn, healing your brain. This ancient food is full of health benefits, ranging from boosting your immune system, overcoming leaky gut, improving joint health and overcoming food allergies. Its high levels of collagen help reduce intestinal inflammation, and healing amino acids like proline and glycine keep your immune system functioning properly and help improve memory
It’s one of the best brain foods out there. Thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline, it will help keep your memory sharp. It’s also loaded with vitamin C — in fact, just one cup provides you with 150 percent of your recommended daily intake.
For a vegetable with such few calories (just 16 per cup!), celery sure does offer a lot of benefits. Its high levels of antioxidants and polysaccharides act as anti-inflammatories and natural brain booster
7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is high in brain protective antioxidants, and particularly high in natural antioxidants called polyphenols. Thanks to the powerful antioxidants, including olive oil in your diet may not only improve learning and memory, but also reverse the age- and disease-related changes. Remember that extra virgin oil is not a good option for cooking, as it hydrogenizes and begins decomposing at high temperatures. Use regula olive oil for cooking.
8. Dark Chocolate
Not all chocolate is created equal; in fact, dark chocolate can actually be good for you! Chocolate is chockfull of flavonols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to both the brain and heart.
But don’t go wild munching on Hershey’s Kisses just yet. Most of the chocolate you see on supermarket shelves is highly processed with few benefits. The rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more health benefits. Skip milk and white chocolates and opt for a minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70 percent of cocoa.
9. Egg Yolks
Yolks contain large amounts of choline, which helps in fetal brain development for pregnant women. It also breaks down bethane, a chemical that produces hormones related to happiness. That’s right, eggs can make you happy! If you’ve kept away from eating eggs whole because of cholesterol concerns, there’s good news. Studies show that eating eggs had no effect on the cholesterol levels of healthy adults and might, in fact, help raise good cholesterol levels.
10. Green, Leafy Vegetables
Getting regular helpings of leafy green brain foods — like kale, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce — can help keep dementia at bay according to new research. Green, leafy vegetables are also loaded with vitamins A and K (just one cup of kale has more than 684 percent of your recommended daily serving!), which help fight inflammation and keep bones strong.
In the study, which evaluated the eating habits and mental ability of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years, those adults who ate a serving of leafy green veggies once or twice a day experienced slower mental deterioration than those who ate no vegetables, even when factors like age, education and family history of dementia were factored in.
Salmon is one of the most nutritious, brain food-friendly foods out there! It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your brain running smoothly ¬— goodbye, brain fog — and improve memory. If you have kids, feeding them salmon can help prevent ADHD by improving their focus. And these same fatty acids can also help prevent cancer and kill tumors — not bad for a four-ounce serving of fish!
Please note that these benefits are for Alaskan wild-caught salmon — farm-raised and regular wild-caught salmon can be filled with mercury and toxins.
It turns out that eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts. Just munching on a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s.
4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory
- Eat Right. The foods you eat – and don’t eat – play a crucial role in your memory.
- Stop Multitasking.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep.