(This article is sponsored by Copeman Healthcare.)
By Linda Cuda, Registered Dietitian
Your brain controls almost everything you do, so it’s essential to keep it in peak working condition. Luckily, nutrition can have a substantial impact when it comes to boosting our brainpower. Eating the right foods can significantly improve your cognitive function, including memory, decision-making ability, mental response time, and mood.
When it comes to eating right for your brain, it’s crucial to incorporate a varied and healthy menu—one that’s largely plant-based and that includes good fats from fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. It’s also important to eat from a well-balanced menu to avoid nutrient deficiencies that can impair brain function. Common deficiencies include iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Keep your brain in top form by adding the following 12 superfoods into your meals.
12 all-star brainpower foods
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that protect brain cells from oxidative damage, reduce inflammation, and clear toxic proteins that accumulate with age. New research suggests that this 'superfruit' can also help prevent premature aging, memory loss, and dementia.
Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, are full of vitamin E—another important antioxidant that has been shown to slow cognitive decline in older adults.
When people talk about brain foods, salmon is often at the top of the list. The brain is the fattiest organ in the body, and foods rich in omega 3, such as fatty fish, help lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure, thereby keeping blood vessels healthy and brain cells flexible. Looking for a non-fish alternative to omega 3s? Try walnuts.
Root vegetables are rich in nitrates, which can dilate blood vessels to allow more oxygenated blood to reach the brain.
Barley and chickpeas
Glucose is the brain’s preferred source of fuel—however, glucose fuel stores are small, which is why we need a continuous supply. Whole grains and legumes like barley and chickpeas provide the brain with a slow, sustained release of glucose. They’re also rich in folic acid, which has been shown to boost memory.
Extra virgin olive oil
When consumed in moderation and in place of saturated and trans fats, healthy monounsaturated fats, such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, can improve memory by helping to optimize blood cholesterol levels.
Eggs and chicken
Eggs and chicken contain a B-vitamin necessary to produce a neurotransmitter that boosts memory and communication among brain cells and may even enhance brain cell production throughout childhood. Pairing proteins with carbohydrates at meals also results in a slow, steady supply of glucose for the brain.
Sesame seeds are rich in tyrosine, which is needed to produce dopamine—a neurotransmitter that keeps the brain alert and memory sharp.
Rosemary and mint
These herbs have been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which can improve concentration and memory.
Brain tip: Eat breakfast, eat regularly!
Your brain is constantly working to sense, process, think, and move. As a result, it requires an enormous amount of energy—twice as many calories as other cells in the body. Help wake up your brain with breakfast, and try not to go more than five hours without eating.
Brain tip: Hydrate!
Staying hydrated facilitates the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. This helps to improve concentration and cognition, balance moods and emotions, maintain memory function, prevent headaches, and increase energy.
Remember, what’s good for your body also tends to be good for your brain. A registered dietitian can help you plan meals that incorporate more brain-boosting foods in ways that suit your lifestyle and preferences.
Copeman Healthcare combines the care of family physicians with dietitians and other health experts to deliver the best health outcomes. To learn more about how proper nutrition can boost your overall health call Ashley Hamilton at 604-670-2937 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgMore