Foods That Are Good For Your Brain And Memory

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Knowing what Foods That Are Good For Your Brain And Memory is important. A healthy diet can help you live a longer and better life with more energy and mental clarity. Eating foods that are brain food can also help with memory loss, increase concentration, and improve learning.

11 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain and Memory

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.

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

This article lists 11 foods that boost your brain.

1. Fatty fish

When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is often at the top of the list.

Omega-3s also offer several additional benefits for your brain.

In general, eating fish seems to have positive health benefits.

Some research also suggests that people who eat fish regularly tend to have more gray matter in their brains. Gray matter contains most of the nerve cells that control decision making, memory, and emotion.

Overall, fatty fish is an excellent choice for brain health.

SUMMARY

Fatty fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, a major building block of the brain. Omega-3s play a role in sharpening memory and improving mood, as well as protecting your brain against cognitive decline.

2. Coffee

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.

  • Increased alertness. Caffeine keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you feel sleepy
  • Improved mood. Caffeine may also boost some of your “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as dopamine
  • Sharpened concentration. One study found that caffeine consumption led to short-term improvements in attention and alertness in participants completing a cognition test

Drinking coffee over the long-term is also linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The largest risk reduction was seen in those adults who consumes 3-4 cups daily

This could at least be partly due to coffee’s high concentration of antioxidants

SUMMARY

Coffee can help boost alertness and mood. It may also offer some protection against Alzheimer’s, thanks to its content of caffeine and antioxidants.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries provide numerous health benefits, including some that are specifically for your brain.

Blueberries and other deeply colored berries deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects

Antioxidants act against both oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions that can contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases

According to one review of 11 studies, blueberries could help improve memory and certain cognitive processes in children and older adult.

Try sprinkling them over your breakfast cereal, adding them to a smoothie, or enjoying as is for a simple snack.

SUMMARY

Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that may delay brain aging and improve memory.

4. Turmeric

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.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there .

It’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has been linked to the following brain benefits:

  • May benefit memory. Curcumin may help improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s. It may also help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of this disease
  • Eases depression. Curcumin boosts serotonin and dopamine, both of which improve mood. One review found that curcumin could improve symptoms of depression and anxiety when used alongside standard treatments in people diagnosed with depression
  • Helps new brain cells grow. Curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. It may help delay age-related mental decline, but more research is needed .

Keep in mind that most studies use highly concentrated curcumin supplements in doses ranging from 500–2,000 mg per day, which is much more curcumin than most people typically consume when using turmeric as a spice. This is because turmeric is only made up of around 3–6% curcumin.

Therefore, while adding turmeric to your food may be beneficial, you may need to use a curcumin supplement under a doctor’s guidance to obtain the results reported in these studies.

SUMMARY

Turmeric and its active compound curcumin have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, which help the brain. In research, it has reduced symptoms of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Broccoli

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 broccoli.

This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that’s densely packed into brain cells.

A few studies in older adults have linked a higher vitamin K intake to better memory and cognitive status.

Beyond vitamin K, broccoli contains a number of compounds that give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may help protect the brain against damage.

SUMMARY

Broccoli contains a number of compounds that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, including vitamin K.

6. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free-radical damage

They’re also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.

Each of these nutrients is important for brain health:

  • Zinc. This element is crucial for nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and Parkinson’s disease .
  • Magnesium. Magnesium is essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraine, depression, and epilepsy
  • Copper. Your brain uses copper to help control nerve signals. And when copper levels are out of whack, there’s a higher risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s
  • Iron. Iron deficiency is often characterized by brain fog and impaired brain function

The research focuses mostly on these micronutrients, rather than pumpkin seeds themselves. However, since pumpkin seeds are high in these micronutrients, you can likely reap their benefits by adding pumpkin seeds to your diet.

SUMMARY

Pumpkin seeds are rich in many micronutrients that are important for brain function, including copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

7. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are packed with a few brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants.

Dark chocolate has a 70% or greater cocoa content. These benefits are not seen with regular milk chocolate, which contains between 10–50% cocoa.

Flavonoids are a group of antioxidant plant compounds.

The flavonoids in chocolate gather in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory. Researchers believe that these compounds may enhance memory and also help slow down age-related mental decline.

According to one study in over 900 people, those who ate chocolate more frequently performed better in a series of mental tasks, including some involving memory, compared with those who rarely ate it.

Chocolate is also a legitimate mood booster, according to research.

One study found that participants who ate chocolate experienced increased positive feelings compared to those who ate crackers.

However, it’s still not clear whether that’s because of compounds in the chocolate or simply because the tasty flavor makes people happy.

SUMMARY

The flavonoids in chocolate may help protect the brain. Studies have suggested that eating chocolate, especially dark chocolate, could boost both memory and mood.

8. Nuts

Research has shown that eating nuts can improve heart-health markers, and having a healthy heart is linked to having a healthy brain.

One study found that regular consumption of nuts could be linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline in older adults .

Also, another 2014 study found that women who ate nuts regularly over the course of several years had a sharper memory compared with those who did not eat nuts .

Vitamin E protects cells against free-radical damage to help slow mental decline

SUMMARY

Nuts contain a host of brain-boosting nutrients, including vitamin E, healthy fats, and plant compounds.

9. Oranges

You can get almost all the vitamin C you need in a day by eating one medium orange 

Doing so is important for brain health since vitamin C is a key factor in preventing mental decline .

According to one study, having higher levels of vitamin C in the blood was associated with improvements in tasks involving focus, memory, attention, and decision speed

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage brain cells. Plus, vitamin C supports brain health as you age and may protect against conditions like major depressive disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease .

You can also get high amounts of vitamin C from other foods like bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries.

SUMMARY

Oranges and other foods that are high in vitamin C can help defend your brain against damage from free radicals.

10. Eggs

Eggs are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline.

Choline is an important micronutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory

Nevertheless, many people do not get enough choline in their diet.

Eating eggs is an easy way to get choline, given that egg yolks are among the most concentrated sources of this nutrient.

Adequate intake of choline is 425 mg per day for most women and 550 mg per day for men, with just a single egg yolk containing 112 mg.

Furthermore, the B vitamins found in eggs also have several roles in brain health.

To start, they may help slow the progression of mental decline in older adults by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that could be linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Vitamin B12 is also involved in synthesizing brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels in the brain.

It’s worth noting that there’s very little direct research on the link between eating eggs and brain health. However, there is research to support the brain-boosting benefits of the specific nutrients found in eggs.

SUMMARY

Eggs are a rich source of several B vitamins and choline, which are important for regulating mood and promoting proper brain function and development.

11. Green tea

As is the case with coffee, the caffeine in green tea boosts brain function.

In fact, it has been found to improve alertness, performance, memory, and focus

But green tea also has other components that make it a brain-healthy beverage.

L-theanine also increases the frequency of alpha waves in the brain, which helps you relax without making you feel tired.

One review found that the L-theanine in green tea can help you relax by counteracting the stimulating effects of caffeine.

It’s also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that could protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

SUMMARY

Green tea is an excellent beverage to support your brain. Its caffeine content boosts alertness, its antioxidants protect the brain, and L-theanine helps you relax.

The bottom line

Many foods can help keep your brain healthy.

Some foods, such as the fruits and vegetables in this list, as well as tea and coffee, have antioxidants that help protect your brain from damage.

Others, such as nuts and eggs, contain nutrients that support memory and brain development.

You can help support your brain health and boost your alertness, memory, and mood by strategically including these foods in your diet.

Just one thing. Try this today: Just as important as including these brain-boosting foods in your diet is steering clear of foods that can negatively impact brain health. Check out this article for a list of the 7 worst foods for your brain that you should limit or avoid.

4 Types of Foods to Support Memory

4 Types of Foods to Help Boost Your Memory

Tijana87/iStock/Thinkstock

If you’re feeling forgetful, it could be due to a lack of sleep or a number of other reasons, including genetics, level of physical activity and lifestyle and environmental factors. However, there’s no doubt that diet also plays a role in brain health.

The best menu for supporting memory and brain function encourages good blood flow to the brain — much like what you’d eat to nourish and protect your heart. Research is finding the Mediterranean Diet may help keep aging brains sharp, and a growing body of evidence links foods such as those in the Mediterranean diet with better cognitive function, memory and alertness.

Strengthen Recall by Adding These Foods to the Rotation 

Eat your veggies. You’re not likely to forget this message. Getting adequate vegetables, especially cruciferous ones including broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens, may help improve memory. Try a kale salad or substitute collard greens for a tortilla in your next sandwich wrap. Broccoli stir-fry also is an excellent option for lunch or dinner.

Be sweet on berries and cherries. Berries — especially dark ones such as blackberries and blueberries, as wells as cherries — are a source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids that may support memory function. Enjoy a handful of berries or pitted cherries for a snack, mixed into cereal or baked into an antioxidant-rich dessert. You can reap these benefits from fresh, frozen or dried berries and cherries

Get adequate omega-3 fatty acids. Essential for good brain health, omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, in particular, may help improve memory. Seafood, algae and fatty fish — including salmon, bluefin tuna, sardines and herring — are some of the best sources of the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA. Substitute fish for other meats once or twice a week to get a healthy dose. Grill, bake or broil fish for ultimate flavor and nutrition. Try salmon tacos with red cabbage slaw, snack on sardines or enjoy seared tuna on salad greens for dinner. If you don’t eat fish, discuss other food options or supplementation with your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist. You can get DHA omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, seaweed or microalgae supplements.

Work in walnuts. Well known for a positive impact on heart health, walnuts also may improve cognitive function. Snack on a handful of walnuts to satisfy midday hunger, add them to oatmeal or a salad for crunch or mix them into a vegetable stir-fry for extra protein.

While there’s no guarantee that these foods will help you remember where you put your keys tomorrow, over time they can support lifelong good health.

6 Foods You Should Be Eating Every Day for Better Brain Health, According to a Dietitian

The brain is a very important organ. It’s the control center of your body and allows you to move, think, feel, breathe and more. Because the brain has such a big job, it’s imperative that we provide it with an abundance of fuel and nutrients to help it function properly and stay healthy. The foods we eat play a huge role in the structure and health of our brains. Research shows that foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavanols, polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids can help protect your brain. They can help to improve memory, concentration and overall brain health.

Additionally, research has shown that following the MIND diet, a mashup of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet that promotes eating specific brain-healthy foods, can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Many of the foods we’ve included here are also on the MIND diet’s list of best brain foods. Here are six things you should be eating for better brain health.

An illustration of a human head with a hatch open showing a brain made of flowers

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES / SEAN GLADWELL / ANDRIY ONUFRIYENKO

6 Foods to Eat Every Day for Better Brain Health

1. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, are packed with nutrients, including vitamin K, beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), folate and vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the cells from free radical damage and has been linked to preventing cognitive decline in the aging population. Vitamin K and beta carotene have also been linked to improving brain health by helping to prevent memory loss and improve cognition. Increasing your intake of leafy greens doesn’t have to be hard. You can try adding a handful of greens when preparing a smoothie or adding a serving of greens to your favorite casserole recipe.

2. Lamb

Are you a fan of lamb? If so, you may be surprised to know that lamb has been linked to benefits such as long-term cognition. According to a recent study, weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was associated with improved long-term cognition. The 10-year study noted improvements in fluid intelligence scores in individuals who consumed certain foods, including lamb. Lamb is produced in every state in the U.S. and available year-round, which makes it easy to add it to your diet. Try adding lamb to your favorite stew recipe or cooking it on the grill.

3. Eggs

Eggs are possibly the most popular breakfast food—and for good reason. They are inexpensive and offer a host of health benefits, especially when it comes to brain health. Did you know that regular consumption of eggs has been associated with improved cognitive performance in adults? Eggs are one of the best food sources of choline. Choline has been linked to reducing inflammation and promoting brain function, like maintaining memory and communications between brain cells. Even though eggs are commonly served at breakfast, you can enjoy them at any meal. Try using eggs to make a savory dinner quiche, or fabulous creamy custard for dessert.

4. Salmon

Salmon is commonly known as a great source of protein, but did you know that it was also great for brain health? Fatty fish like salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical for brain development and function. In addition to improved brain health, these fatty acids have been associated with lowering the risk of heart disease and arthritis. Salmon can be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be seared and paired with hearty serving of vegetables or added to your favorite pasta dish. Our five-star Walnut-Rosemary Crusted Salmon will help boost your omega-3 intake in a delicious way.

5. Blueberries

While all berries are beneficial for brain health, blueberries are at the top of the list. They contribute essential nutrients to the body, including vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and phytonutrients. These nutrients help to stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen in the brain, resulting in improved concentration. Evidence suggests that eating a diet containing a variety of vegetables and fruits, such as blueberries, is associated with lower risk of age-related cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There are many ways to enjoy this tasty fruit—try adding a handful to your smoothie recipe or pureeing a few berries to make a delicious blueberry chia jam.

6. Walnuts

Nuts are a great addition to any diet regimen, but the one that contributes most to brain health is walnuts. When compared to other nuts, walnuts offer twice as many antioxidants. They contain an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid that helps to counteract cognitive decline by suppressing inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation and oxidative stress have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Evidence suggests that eating about 1 to 2 ounces of walnuts per day can improve cognitive function. Try adding a serving of walnuts to a hearty salad or pairing them with a variety of roasted vegetables.

The Bottom Line

The foods you eat play an important role in brain health. You can help to improve your brain health, memory and alertness by including a variety of nutritious foods such as leafy greens, lamb, eggs, salmon, blueberries and walnuts in your daily diet. These foods may also help to reduce the risk of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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