We believe that eating well leads to a happier, healthier life. This blog is dedicated to teaching you about food and how it affects your brain.
Food For Brain
Your brain is kind of a big deal.
As the control center of your body, it’s in charge of keeping your heart beating and lungs breathing and allowing you to move, feel, and think.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your brain in peak working condition.
The foods you eat play a role in keeping your brain healthy and can improve specific mental tasks, such as memory and concentration.
1. Fatty fish
When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is often at the top of the list.
If coffee is the highlight of your morning, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s good for you.
Two main components in coffee — caffeine and antioxidants — can help support brain health.
Blueberries provide numerous health benefits, including some that are specifically for your brain.
Turmeric has generated a lot of buzz recently.
This deep-yellow spice is a key ingredient in curry powder and has a number of benefits for the brain.
Broccoli is packed with powerful plant compounds, including antioxidants.
It’s also very high in vitamin K, delivering more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) in a 1-cup (160-gram) serving of cooked broccolli.
6. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free-radical damage.
Foods To Boost Brain Function
The foods we eat can have a big impact on the structure and health of our brains. Eating a brain-boosting diet can support both short- and long-term brain function.
The brain is an energy-intensive organ, using around 20 percent of the body’s calories, so it needs plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day.
The brain also requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
This article explores the scientific evidence behind 12 of the best brain foods.
1. Oily fish
Oily fish are a good sourceTrusted Source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells. They can, therefore, improve the structure of brain cells called neurons.
A 2017 study found that people with high levels of omega-3s had increased blood flow in the brain. The researchers also identified a connection between omega-3 levels and better cognition, or thinking abilities.
These results suggest that eating foods rich in omega-3s, such as oily fish, may boost brain function.
Examples of oily fish that contain high levels of omega-3s include:
People can also get omega-3s from soybeans, nuts, flaxseed, and other seeds.
2. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains cocoa, also known as cacao. Cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.
Antioxidants are especially important for brain health, as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases.
Cacao flavonoids seem to be good for the brain. According to a 2013 review, they may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning. They may also stimulate blood flow in the brain.
Some research also suggests that the flavonoid component of chocolate may reverse memory problems in snails. Scientists have yet to test this in humans.
However, a 2018 study in humans also supports the brain-boosting effects of dark chocolate. The researchers used imaging methods to look at activity in the brain after participants ate chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.
The researchers concluded that eating this type of dark chocolate may improve brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning, and may also provide other brain-related benefits.
Like dark chocolate, many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Research suggests that these may make the berries good food for the brain.
Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in berries include anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin.
A 2014 review notes that the antioxidant compounds in berries have many positive effects on the brain, including:
- improving communication between brain cells
- reducing inflammation throughout the body
- increasing plasticity, which helps brain cells form new connections, boosting learning and memory
- reducing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline
Antioxidant-rich berries that can boot brain health include:
4. Nuts and seeds
Eating more nuts and seeds may be good for the brain, as these foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
A 2014 studyfound that a higher overall nut intake was linked to better brain function in older age.
Nuts and seeds are also rich sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
As a person ages, their brain may be exposed to this form of oxidative stress, and vitamin E may therefore support brain health in older age.
A 2014 review found that vitamin E may also contribute to improved cognition and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The nuts and seeds with the highest amounts of vitamin E include:
- sunflower seeds
Fully exploring vitamin E’s effects on the brain will require further research.
5. Whole grains
Eating whole grains is another way to benefit from the effects of vitamin E, with these grains being a good source of vitamin.
Whole-grain foods include:
- brown rice
- bulgur wheat
- whole-grain bread
- whole-grain pasta
Coffee is a well-known concentration aid — many drink it to stay awake and encourage focus.
The caffeine in coffee blocks a substance in the brain called adenosine, which makes a person feel sleepy.
Beyond boosting alertness, a 2018 study suggests that caffeine may also increase the brain’s capacity for processing information.
The researchers found that caffeine causes an increase in brain entropy, which refers to complex and variable brain activity. When entropy is high, the brain can process more information.
Coffee is also a source of antioxidants, which may support brain health as a person gets older. One study has linked lifelong coffee consumption with reduced risk of:
- cognitive decline
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Caffeine can, however, affect a person’s sleep and doctors do not recommend caffeine consumption for everyone.