Always forgetting something? Got a word on the tip of your tongue but can’t quite remember? Can’t keep up with a fast-talking salesperson?
Brain Health Benefits
You can improve all these areas by keeping your brain active and healthy. A healthy brain helps you think faster, react quickly to situations, achieve better focus and memory, and experience a more positive mood. A fit brain also contributes to sharper vision and hearing, as well as the ability to become more alert and get things done correctly.
Aside from brain training exercises, a balanced diet will also aid you in having a healthy brain. Knowing what to bring to the table can make a difference in helping you achieve a more astute way of thinking. Such food selections can help improve cognitive health and lower your risk for age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
To guide you in selecting the “superfoods” to keep your gray matter happy and healthy, here is a list of what to eat:
Avocados contain plenty of healthy monounsaturated fats which help your brain with planning and critical thinking. Consuming these healthy fats will allow your cell membranes to be flexible.
This fruit also contributes to a healthier blood flow and helps lower blood pressure – key factors in promoting brain health. Take heed, however, that avocados are also high in calories, so a quarter or half of the fruit is enough as a side dish for your daily nutritional needs.
2. Coffee and tea
When taken in moderation, coffee and tea can do wonders for your brain health. Their caffeine ingredients can enhance your mood and sharpen your focus and concentration. Substances known as phenols in coffee have antioxidants and flavonoids similar to berries. These components have also been proven to lower the risk of heart attacks.
Not too fond of the after-coffee slump? Try next-generation alternatives such as pterostilbene-caffeine solution, which gives you not the sudden pick-up from ordinary coffee but rather a sustained energy boost throughout the day. It also offers numerous health benefits as it supports heart health, improves memory and focus, maintains blood sugar levels and promotes healthy aging.
Bananas are good sources of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. A higher intake of vitamin B6 (based on your doctor’s recommendations and your body's needs) can lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Increased levels of vitamin C in the body can also help slow cognitive decline in older people, help decrease stress, and improve mood in healthy adults.
4. Blueberries and dark berries
A rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, blueberries are said to slow down brain aging and ward off dementia. Studies conducted in Harvard and Tufts University also suggest that eating blueberries may improve memory and cognition, protect against oxidative stress, and prevent a decline in cognitive functions.
Other dark berries, such as blackcurrants and strawberries, may also boost the brain. These dark-colored fruits contain the protective compounds called anthocyanins – antioxidants that are beneficial for a variety of health conditions.
5. Cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens
Cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens have proven brain health benefits and are excellent sources of antioxidants. In a study conducted on women in their 60s, researchers found that those who ate more cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts) and leafy greens presented less decline in memory, attention and verbal abilities than those who did not consume as much.
Containing almost 400 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin A in just one cup, vegetables such as chard, kale, spinach and other dark leafy greens may be considered as true superfoods. These greens have healthy doses of vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid as well.
6. Dark chocolate
Compounds called flavonoids can be found in cocoa and have been associated with improved cognitive performance in older adults. Research results indicate that cocoa flavanols improve performance during sustained mental effort in healthy adults. They can also enhance your cardiovascular health.
Rich in choline, eggs have been linked to long-term memory development. Choline intake has been found to promote recovery from learning memory disorders and may help improve mental function in people with senile dementia or Alzheimer’s. Egg yolks are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in calories.
Garlic has strong antioxidant properties that may help improve memory and cognitive performance as well as stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds can help curb cognitive decline as people age. Almonds and walnuts are the most popular for their high levels of healthy fats and vitamin E. Other nuts are also good such as Brazil nuts, cashews, filberts and hazelnuts, along with non-hydrogenated nut butter such as peanut butter and tahini.
Onions contain an antioxidant called quercetin, a substance which can help stave off a type of stroke called ischemic brain damage. It is also helpful in improving impaired memory and has been implicated to be a potential antidepressant.
To promote a fit and healthy brain, you must take steps to be more mindful of what you serve on your dining table. The food you eat can influence how you think. Bear in mind that a healthy, balanced diet, as well as regular exercise, can be helpful boosters for your brain.
About the Author: Frank L. Jaksch Jr. is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of ChromaDex. He oversees research, strategy and operations for the Company with a focus on scientific and novel products for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets. Mr. Jaksch earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Valparaiso University.