Did you know that studies have found that a Mediterranean diet may lead to improved cardiovascular health?
While heart health is important, it’s wise to eat a variety of foods that will benefit all of your body.
When planning meals, it’s smart to incorporate brain-friendly foods too. But what exactly constitutes a brain-friendly food? And what makes them so useful for brain performance?
We’re here to fill you in! Keep reading below to learn seven of the best foods for brain health.
1. The Power of Avocados
Avocados have become a staple among millennials, but they’re more than a trendy food! This fan-favorite is a perfect addition to salads and sandwiches, but it’s also excellent brain food.
First of all, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids, like the ones found in avocados, protect astrocyte cells in the brain, which give support to the nerves that carry information. Monounsaturated fatty acids have also been shown to aid in muscle control.
Avocados are a source of vitamin K and folate. Vitamin K and folate help prevent blood clots in the brain. They’re also reported to improve cognitive functions, especially with regard to memory and concentration.
Avocados are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are key in supporting the area of the brain responsible for regulating mood and emotions.
2. Best Foods for Brain Health and Salads: Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are the perfect base for a nutritious salad. Leafy greens will give you a boost of brainpower and are perfect sauteed, added in sandwiches, or blended into a smoothie.
Leafy greens have shown to slow cognitive decline and memory loss. They’re also full of folate, iron, calcium, and vitamins E and K. This collection is useful in preventing dementia.
Spinach, specifically, can prove to be a game-changer for some individuals as it’s rich in B vitamin folate. B vitamin folate can lower levels of homocysteine, which is a compound that can be toxic to neurons.
3. Powerful Herbs and Spices
There’s a reason that herbs and spices have been used in natural medicine for thousands of years! Many of the seasonings in your kitchen can actually improve your brain’s health. Two of the most powerful herbs and spices are sage and turmeric.
Sage is the perfect herb to use in your cooking for a memory boost as several studies have shown that sage may be useful in improving memory and cognitive functions. It’s also useful as an anti-inflammatory and can aid in preventing neuroinflammation.
Turmeric is a common spice, and one of its main compounds, curcumin, is effective at improving memory. Curcumin is an antioxidant, and it’s also shown to curb inflammation and even improve one’s mood.
4. Sweet Brain Food: Berries
If you’re a fruit lover, you’ll be happy to hear that berries are one of the best foods for brain health.
Berries have high levels of antioxidants, which are helpful in protecting cells from damage by free radicals, which are known to destroy DNA and harm cells.
It’s suspected that berries can even change the way that neurons in the brain communicate, which can improve motor control, cognitive function, and prevent inflammation.
Blueberries are especially praised for being brain-friendly food. One specific study found that blueberry extract was useful in preventing the buildup of amyloid plaques, which often lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
5. For a Quick Crunch: Nuts
Nuts are a perfect brain-healthy snack for those on-the-go. Whether you add them as a garnish on salads or to trail mix, you won’t want to skimp out on this brain food. Plus, they’re one of the most accessible vegan foods for brain health!
Nuts are high in omega-3 fats. Walnuts are especially high in a specific omega-3 fat known as alpha-linolenic acid, which helps to lower blood pressure and may improve memory as well.
Nuts are also rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which protects brain cells from oxidative stress caused by damaging free radicals. Vitamin E is also suspected to be helpful in improving cognitive functions and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Best Brain Foods for Seafood Lovers: Oily Fish
If you prefer a Mediterranean-style diet, it’s time to incorporate oily fish into your meal plans. Fatty fish are easily accessible brain food—choose from sardines, salmon, mackerel, and trout.
Fatty and oily fish are rich in omega-3 fats. As previously mentioned, omega-3 fats are useful in combating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-3 fats can also improve existing memory and assist in managing stress. They have also been known to produce serotonin, the chemical in the brain responsible for good moods.
7. Fiber-Rich Brain Foods: Beans
Beans are a staple at health food stores, and for good reason! Beans offer a variety of health benefits, and they’re useful for boosting brainpower. They’re also one of the cheapest foods good for brain health!
Beans are rich in B vitamins. B vitamins help with the formation of dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that help to regulate and improve mood. They also myelin, which forms protective insulation around nerve fibers.
Beans are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, known for maintaining cognitive function and regulating positive neurotransmitters in the brain. They also contain nutrients like magnesium, zinc, fiber, antioxidants, and folate, which all aid in brain performance.
Revamping Your Diet
Chances are, you’re already eating plenty of the best foods for brain health listed above. But, with a little tweaking, you can make your diet even more brain-friendly! These tasty foods will help you combat memory loss, better your mood, and improve cognitive functions.
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