The brain is responsible for nearly everything the human body does, whether we know it or not, so its ability to work at its maximum potential is essential to proper development and health. Activities such as exercise and regular brain stimulation have been proven effective at improving brain health, and combining them with the "brain foods" on this list can be a nearly fool-proof way to make your brain the best it can be.
- Fish: Fish, especially tuna and salmon, are known for lowering risks of dementia and stroke, and have been linked to enhancing memory as well. Researchers recommend two weekly servings of fish to get all of the Omega 3 fatty acids they can provide. While the benefits don’t go away regardless of how fish is cooked, grilling and baking fish will promote overall bodily wellness as the lowest fat options.
- Nuts and nut butters: Rich in the antioxidant Vitamin E, peanuts and almonds (and the spreads made from them) have been linked to decreasing the cognitive effects of aging. Because nuts are relatively high in fat, it is recommended to eat around an ounce of nuts daily to reap the benefits without the getting all the fat and calories.
- Dark chocolate: Not only are they full of antioxidants, but cacao beans and dark chocolate (75% cacao or higher) also contain caffeine, a natural stimulant that can promote focus. In small amounts, chocolate with a high percentage of cacao has also been linked to lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
- Whole Grains: Rich in fiber, whole grains have been associated with reducing cardiovascular risks such as inflammation and high blood pressure, which in turn allows freer blood flow and reduces risk of brain diseases. Common foods that are made from whole grains include breads, cereals, oats, and brown rice, but check the label to be sure products are not processed, which removes many dietary qualities.
- Blueberries: Among the healthiest of fruits, blueberries are rich in antioxidants and are known for not only slowing, but reversing age-related memory deficits as well. One to two cups daily can be eaten fresh on their own, in cereal and in salads, juiced, or frozen as a cool treat or to top off ice cream.
- Red apples: The chemicals, known as phenolics, found in the skins of red apples (Red Delicious and Northern Spy apples in particular) have recently been found to combat degenerative brain disorders and some cancers. Juices made from apples also carry the same benefits.
- Spinach: Spinach and other leafy green vegetables that are chock full of folate, such as collard greens, mustard greens and kale, can actually reverse the effects of age-related memory loss. Spinach can easily be cooked as a side dish to any meal or can make up a meal as the greens in a salad.
- Broccoli: Broccoli can not only combat, but can also reverse the age-related effects of memory loss. Other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage can provide the same benefits.
- Oil-based salad dressings: High in Vitamin E, the antioxidant that can protect neurons or a brain’s nerve cells, vegetable oil-based salad dressings can be a healthy addition to any meal. Dressings include olive oil, oil and vinegar, or vinaigrettes.
- Avocados: Though it is high in fat, the avocado fruit is also high in vitamins E and C and has been associated with reducing risks of dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Eaten plain, as a salad topping, or mashed into a creamy dip, avocados can easily be a side dish to any meal.
- Seeds: Seeds, including pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, contain a lot of Vitamin E, an antioxidant-rich ingredient that has been associated with the reduction of memory loss-related diseases. Dry-roasted as a snack or as a topping on a salad, seeds can be a flavorful addition to any diet.
- Red wine: When consumed in moderation, red wine has been linked to reduced risks of Alzheimer’s disease. The polyphenols in the skins of the grapes used for red wine have been found to contain antioxidants, which protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
- Matcha tea: Green teas, particularly Japanese Matcha tea, are full of natural ingredients including antioxidants (33 times more than blueberries, in fact), vitamins A and C, L-Theanine and ECGC, or Epigallocatechin Gallate, which has been shown to fight cancer and the effects of aging. Consuming real, high-quality, stone ground Matcha tea means not only consuming the flavor of tea leaves but the actual leaf itself.
- Coffee: Much like the cocoa bean, the coffee bean is rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It is also known for its caffeine, which has repeatedly been shown to enhance brain health.
- Eggs: Choline, which is similar to Vitamin B, can help enhance memory, especially when taken for prolonged periods of time. Egg yolks contain more choline than any other natural food.
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