Your brain is an organ, just like any other. Like other organs, its function can be either enhanced or impaired by the things you eat and drink. If you’d like to help keep your memory sharp and mental skills at their peak, here are 11 brain-boosting foods to consider adding to your diet:
Fish is often touted as “brain food,” and for good reason — fatty fish, like salmon, are an abundant source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. These fatty acids can help keep your brain on track, improving focus, memory, and concentration.
2. Black Beans
Beans, bean, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you remember. In addition to providing magnesium, which helps Alzheimer’s symptoms in animal studies, beans are high in cholesterol-lowering fiber. This can help keep tiny blood vessels in the brain clear of plaque.
Avocados are chick-full of monounsaturated fats, which help you absorb more vitamins from your food without contributing to dramatic spikes in serum cholesterol levels. They also contain vitamin K, which helps regulate blood clotting, and vitamins B and C. This makes them great for promoting healthy circulation in the brain.
4. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, which help regulate inflammation and suppress oxidative damage. It may also help lower blood pressure, protecting the delicate blood vessels within the brain and lowering the risk of stroke.
They’re edible, incredible, and they give you vitamin D. While it’s easy for the body to make vitamin D with sun exposure, working during the day and slathering on sunscreen can hamper this. Unfortunately, elderly people with cognitive decline seemed to be worse off the more deficient they were in this crucial vitamin. Keep using the sun hats and sunscreen, and add whole eggs to your diet to keep your levels up.
Whether it’s a handful of almonds as a snack, or a spoonful of almond butter on your toast, almonds are one of the best sources of vitamin E around. Vitamin E helps cut your risk of cognitive impairments, and there is some evidence that it may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The more colorful the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it contains. Tomatoes are a rich source of the carotenoid lycopene. Carotenoids seem to help boost memory and cognition over time, while reducing inflammation. Since most of the lycopene in a tomato is contained in the skin, opt for small tomatoes (like grape or spoon tomatoes) for the most benefit.
Aromatherapy aficionados tout rosemary oil’s memory-improving benefits, but the whole herb is nothing to sneeze at, either. It contains carnosic acid, a compound which can actually help protect brain tissue against oxidative damage linked to neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s, and strokes.
Like tomatoes, these colorful little fruits are full of antioxidants. Instead of carotenoids (which give foods a red color), they are high in anthocyanidins. These antioxidants help control inflammation, which blueberry flavonoids have been shown to help improve spatial memory in animal studies.
10. Chamomile tea
Chamomile is a relaxation herb par excellence, and its effect on the circadian rhythm can help keep your brain functioning. Nothing is worse for memory and cognition than a poor night’s sleep — the effects of “drowsy driving” have been likened to driving while intoxicated — and many people are sleep-deficient. A cup or two before bed can help you sleep better and awake refreshed and alert.
Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory herb, to the point where it has been shown to help prevent and improve dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as help people with traumatic brain injuries. Add it to savory dishes, smoothies, or tea for a punch of earthy, spicy flavor and appealing bright-yellow color.
People often think of the mind as separate from the body, but nothing could be further from the truth. Brains are as affected by diet as the heart, liver, or any other part, and it’s important to keep them well fed. By adding some of these foods to your healthy diet, you can help protect your brain from inflammation, improve your memory, and keep your mind sharp.