by Matt Weik
It’s a no-brainer that the brain is a vital organ, but have you ever thought about what you can do to keep it healthy, such as brain healthy foods? The thought probably never crossed your mind, right? After all, most people only tend to focus on things after something terrible happens to them.
That being said, we all have different reasons why we should want to keep our brains healthy. Maybe you just want to be sharp as you age, or perhaps you want to make sure you don’t get any diseases that deal with your brain and cognition? Whatever the reason might be, trying to keep your brain healthy is always a good option.
The human brain is the epicenter of all functionalities related to our life. It helps our heart to beat, keeps our lungs pumping oxygen, enables us to think rationally, perform optimally, the list goes on and on. For those many reasons is why we must take great care of our brain, and to do that, we need to eat brain healthy foods that complement the inner workings of it.
Let’s take a closer look at seven brain healthy foods you should add to your diet.
1. Fatty Fish
Consuming fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna are very important as they are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids as they play a role in cognitive functioning. If you’re not a fish lover, you’re not alone. Try using fish oil supplements or adding a (flavored) liquid fish oil to your smoothies.
Around 60% of our brain is composed of fat, and a good chunk of that is used to construct brain and nerve cells.
Who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee? It doesn’t even need to be the morning to enjoy a nice brew. The next time someone carelessly assumes that coffee and tea are fashionable lifestyle choices, you can have a healthy debate with them and explain that coffee is one of the brain healthy foods (and beverages) that everyone should be taking advantage of.
The two primary components of coffee are caffeine and antioxidants. Caffeine, especially, has a direct bearing on brain health because of the following reasons:
• It blocks adenosine to keep you awake and prevents sleepiness from setting in.
• It boosts the secretion of dopamine which is considered a “feel-good” neurotransmitter.
• A study showed that caffeine kept participants focused and concentrated while performing cognitive activities.
Did you think you would read through an entire list of brain healthy foods without the mention of the omnipresent nemesis of taste buds? People seem to have a love-hate relationship with broccoli. Some people can eat it without any hesitation, while others would rather eat dirt.
But the fact is, broccoli is slammed with vitamin K, a compound known for enhancing the memory and cognitive functioning of the brain. Beyond this, broccoli also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help stave off brain damage.
4. Dark Chocolate
What if you were told that you should consume more chocolate in your diet? You’d think someone was playing tricks on you, no? Well, dark chocolate is actually one of the brain healthy foods you should add (a little bit of) to your diet.
Dark chocolate is known to be packed with healthy compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids gather in the area of the brain associated with learning and memory, which can help you maintain and improve both aspects.
Some Researchers say that dark chocolate positively impacts learning and age-related decline of cognitive capabilities. According to the same Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal study that was conducted with over 900 people as its subjects, researchers found that people who consumed more chocolate had shown an improvement in completing mental tasks.
Despite their unfair comparison with apples, oranges have always been beneficial in the diet. These orange balls are packed with vitamin C, enabling the brain to ward off free radicals that can potentially damage the brain.
According to the findings of a study, vitamin C consumption can prevent the onset of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.
Eggs are full of nutrients that improve your memory, concentration, and overall brain health. They’re a great source of protein and choline, good for your liver, and help form and retain long-term memories. Eggs also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which helps you relax.
Choline is an important nutrient for women who are pregnant because it’s linked to improved memory and cognition in their children later in life. Definitely consider adding this to your list of brain healthy foods that can also help support lean muscle mass.
7. Green Tea
A healthy diet without the inclusion of green tea would be a travesty. One of the major components of green tea is L-theanine. This can directly cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of GABA.
This powerful neurotransmitter helps reduce anxiety and allows you to feel calmer. One study found that L-theanine can be an effective combatant against the restlessness generated by caffeine. Moreover, the presence of polyphenols and antioxidants can help keep Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s at bay.
Overall, your brain health is critical. By incorporating more brain healthy foods into your diet, you’ll be giving your brain all the tools it needs to operate at peak capacity. As we age, it’s imperative that we do what we can to help maintain our memory and retain our cognitive functioning. Adding brain healthy foods to your diet is a great first step towards making this happen.