Do you want to make sure your brain stays healthy into your golden years? Are you curious about which foods are best for a healthy brain? Look no further.

You are what you eat. The food we eat has a direct impact on our bodies, including our brains. Nutritionists argue that our diets are even more important to the overall health and condition of our brain as we get older, making it even more vital to make sure you’re eating the right foods.

From foods that will boost your memory to healthy snacks that will make you better at concentrating, here are five foods that you should be eating on a regular basis for a healthy brain.

food science, neuroscience, nutrition

1. Blueberries

Blueberries aren’t just delicious, they’re also brain food. Studies have shown that blueberries help improve memory and cognitive function.[1] One particular study found that consuming blueberry juice for 12 weeks improved participants’ memory and mood.[2] Blueberries are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals – unstable atoms that can cause damage to the body.

Blueberries are also a good source of vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system. Add a handful of blueberries to your morning oatmeal, sip some blueberry juice with your meals or eat them as a healthy snack throughout the day.

food science, neuroscience, nutrition

2. Salmon

Salmon is packed with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are essential for brain health, but our bodies can’t produce them on their own. That’s why it’s important to include foods like salmon in our diets, making sure we get enough of the nutrients our brain needs.

Salmon is also a good source of protein and vitamin D, both of which are important for brain health. Research has shown that people who eat fish on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments.[3]

food science, neuroscience, nutrition

3. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a good source of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin E, and magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral for brain health, and studies have shown that it can help improve memory.[4]

Not sure which nuts or seeds to go for? Walnuts are a particularly good brain food because they contain high levels of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for brain health. Eat a handful of nuts or seeds as a snack or add them to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal for a real brain boost.

food science, neuroscience, nutrition

4. Dark Chocolate

Yes, chocolate can be good for you! Dark chocolate, in particular, is a good source of antioxidants and flavonoids, which have been shown to improve brain function. One study found that people who ate dark chocolate performed better at memory tests than those who didn’t eat chocolate.[5]Chocolate is also a good source of caffeine, which can help improve brain function and alertness. Choose dark chocolate with a high cocoa content for the most benefits, and remember to eat it in moderation to avoid adding inches to your waistline.

food science, neuroscience, nutrition

5. Avocados

Avocados are a good source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. They’re also one of the few fruits that contain monounsaturated fats, which are important for brain health. One study found that people who ate avocados had higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that’s important for brain health and function.[6] BDNF has been shown to improve memory and protect the brain against age-related decline.

Avocado has a mild taste, which makes it extremely versatile. Add avocado slices to your morning toast, try it in a salad, or enjoy it as a healthy snack throughout the day.

Eating a healthy diet is important for overall health, but it’s especially important for brain health. The foods we eat have a direct impact on our brain function. So, what are the best foods for a healthy brain?

The answer is unsurprisingly complex, as different foods have different effects on different people. However, there are some general rules that we can all follow to give our brains the best chance at staying healthy and performing well into old age. To start with, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables of all colors, as they contain important antioxidants and nutrients essential to cognitive health. Make sure you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids by eating oily fish like salmon or tuna regularly, and consider taking a fish oil supplement if you don’t get enough through your diet. Finally, cut back on processed foods and sugary snacks in favor of whole grains, nuts, and seeds – but a little dark chocolate now and then can be surprisingly good for you. What changes will you make to your diet today to ensure a healthy brain tomorrow?

References:

  1. “Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases” by Selvaraju Subash, Musthafa Mohamed Essa, Ph.D., Samir Al-Adawi, Mushtaq A. Memon, Thamilarasan Manivasagam and Mohammed Akbar, 15 August 2014, Neural Regeneration Research.
    DOI: 10.4103/1673-5374.139483
  2. “Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults” by Robert Krikorian, Marcelle D. Shidler, Tiffany A. Nash, Wilhelmina Kalt, Melinda R. Vinqvist-Tymchuk, Barbara Shukitt-Hale and James A. Joseph, 4 January 2010, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
    DOI: 10.1021/jf9029332
  3. “Eating Fish Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease” 30 November 2011, press.rsna.org/timssnet/media/pressreleases/pr_target.cfm?id=571
  4. “The role of magnesium therapy in learning and memory” by Michael R. Hoane, 2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507270/
  5. “How dark chocolate could boost brain health, immunity” by Honor Whiteman, 27 April 2018, medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321618
  6. “Avocado oil (Persea americana) protects SH-SY5Y cells against cytotoxicity triggered by cortisol by the modulation of BDNF, oxidative stress, and apoptosis molecules” by Jéssica Rosso Motta, Ivo Emilio da Cruz Jung, Verônica Farina Azzolin, Cibele Ferreira Teixeira, Luiza Elizabete Braun, Daniel Augusto De Oliveira Nerys, Marco Aurélio Echart Motano, Marta Maria Medeiros Frescura Duarte, Ednea Aguiar Maia-Ribeiro, Ivana Beatrice Mânica da Cruz and Fernanda Barbisan, 22 January 2021, Journal of Food Biochemistry.
    DOI: 10.1111/jfbc.13596

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