The foods we eat can have a big impact on the structure and health of our brains. Eating a brain-boosting diet can support both short- and long-term brain function.
The brain is an energy-intensive organ, using around 20 percent of the body’s calories, so it needs plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day.The brain also requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are foods that will boost your memory and help your brain function properly.
Fatty fish are abundant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy unsaturated fats that have been linked to lower blood levels of beta-amyloid—the protein that forms damaging clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, but choose varieties that are low in mercury, such as salmon, cod, canned light tuna, and pollack. If you're not a fan of fish, ask your doctor about taking an omega-3 supplement, or choose terrestrial omega-3 sources such as flaxseeds, avocados, and walnuts.
Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from an adequate, steady supply of energy (in the form of glucose) in our blood, to the brain. Achieve this by choosing wholegrains which have a low-GI, which means they release their energy slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day. Eating too few healthy carbs, like wholegrains, may lead to brain fog and irritability. Opt for 'brown' wholegrain cereals, granary bread, rice and pasta.
Berries — especially dark ones such as blackberries, blueberries and cherries — are a rich source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids that may support memory function. Enjoy a handful of berries for a snack, mixed into cereal or baked into an antioxidant-rich dessert. You can reap these benefits from fresh, frozen or dried berries and cherries.
Beets contain high levels of dietary nitrates, which your body converts to nitric oxide—and that relaxes blood vessels in the body and increases blood flow to the brain. In a 2016 study in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, older adults, with a mean age of 65.4 years, who exercised and drank beetroot juice for six weeks, experienced brain benefits. Their brain networks had a similar appearance to those of younger adults. Note that more study is needed since other research on beetroot juice and the brain is mixed.
The fruit is full of monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, both beneficial for brain health. Try adding avocados to your favorite salads or as a secret baking ingredient: You can swap it for butter in a lot of traditional recipes for cakes and breads. Just remember that although avocado is high in healthy fat, it's still higher in calories than other fruits (a quarter of an avocado is about 60 calories).
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