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10 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain and Memory

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The brain is the control center of the body, it keeps the heart beating and lungs breathing, and allows us to move, feel, and think. Hence, it is very important to keep the brain functioning optimally. A healthy, balanced nutritious diet including a lot of fruits, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains is all that is needed to give the brain the best chance to avoid any disease or damage to it. [1]

Nutritionists believe that what people have in their daily diet contributes to the individual’s general health, including their brain health. With age, brain health and condition also decline. So, to keep the brain healthy even in its golden years, it’s vital to ensure eating the right foods at all times. However, there is no such almighty brain food or pill that can allow people to have a sharp image even as they get older. [2, 3]

Are you inquisitive to know which foods can boost your brain power? Look no further; here is a list of top foods linked to better brain health. Such foods also help improve specific mental tasks such as concentration and memory, but still, most people aren’t eating enough of them!

  1. Fermented Foods
    Fermented foods are made of raw ingredients such as milk or vegetables combined with live microbes like yeast and bacteria. Some examples of fermented foods that protect the brain, reduce anxiety, improve memory, and slow down cognitive decline include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and plain yogurt with live bacteria or probiotic-rich yogurt.
  2. Green, Leafy Vegetables
    Leafy, green vegetables contain many nutrients that have beneficial effects on the brain’s health and help slow cognitive decline and protect against dementia. These brain-boosting nutrients include carotenoids, Vitamin E, Vitamin B9 (folate), Vitamin K, and flavonoids. Some examples of vegetables that contain these nutrients include Swiss chard, kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, and dandelion greens.
  3. Coffee and Green Tea
    Coffee and tea, brain-healthy beverages, are known to have a number of positive effects on the brain as they have antioxidants and caffeine in them. Such ingredients improve the mood by boosting some feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine; increasing alertness by blocking a chemical messenger called adenosine that leads to sleepiness; sharpens concentration.
  4. Spices 
    Spices like turmeric must not only be thought of as added flavors to the food; they have many health benefits of having them in daily diet. These antioxidant properties help the brain avoid oxidative stress or free radical damage that can harm the brain tissues. Turmeric has an active ingredient called curcumin that is known to reduce anxiety and depression in people and alter the corresponding brain chemistry, protecting the hippocampus. It is also found to benefit memory in Alzheimer’s patients and boost the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps healthy, new brain cells to grow. According to researchers, saffron consumption can significantly reduce depression.
  5. Dark Chocolate 
    Dark chocolate, which is high in cocoa content, is an excellent source of iron and antioxidants. Iron helps in making up, protecting the covering of neurons and controls the chemical synthesis and the chemical pathways involved in mood. It also contains other brain-boosting ingredients- flavonoids and caffeine. As per research, flavonoids- a group of antioxidant plant compounds, are known to increase memory and improve learning efficiency. Furthermore, the study’s data reveals that caffeine provides a short-term boost in concentration and even better mental function.
  6. Nuts 
    Nuts have several nutrients, including healthy fats, proteins, essential vitamins (like Vitamin E, which protects against free-radical damage to help slow cognitive decline), and minerals (such as selenium in Brazil nuts) that may be beneficial for brain health. Although all nuts are good for brain health, walnuts are at the top of the list since they also contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts are highly promising in improving memory and thinking power. A handful of nuts taken as a snack or added into oatmeal or in breakfast cereal can be a real boost for the brain.
  7. Pumpkin Seeds 
    Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc- a mineral vital for improving memory and thinking power. Zinc is essential for nerve signaling, and its deficiency can result in many neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. They are also great sources of B vitamins, stress-busting magnesium, and tryptophan-the precursor to the chemical serotonin responsible for good mood. Magnesium found in pumpkin seeds is crucial for memory and learning. If it is at a low level, migraine, epilepsy, and depression can be caused by people. The pumpkin seeds also contain iron, whose deficiency can lead to impaired brain function or brain fog, and copper, which the brain uses to control nerve signals. The deficiency of copper can result in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
  8. Fatty Fish 
    Fatty fish such as Salmon is rich in healthy unsaturated fats- omega-3 fatty acids. These are known to lower the levels of beta-amyloid proteins that can clump inside the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, Salmon is a good source of Vitamin D and protein, both of which are important for brain health.
  9. Blueberries 
    Blueberries are rich in Vitamin C, which helps improve the immune system’s health. They are considered to be brain-boosting food as they are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients (flavonoids), which protect the brain from free radical damage. Evidence suggest that having blueberries may help improve or delay short-term memory loss.
  10. Avocados 
    Avocados consist of relatively high amounts of magnesium- an element essential for proper brain function. There are many cases reported to date where the magnesium treatment has successfully agitated depression in mentally-ill patients. Moreover, one study found that people who consumed avocados had higher levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is known to improve memory and protect the brain against cognitive decline caused by age.  [1, 3, 4, 5]

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References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods
  2. https://scitechdaily.com/the-top-5-foods-to-eat-for-better-brain-health/
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower
  4. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-foods-boost-your-brainpower
  5. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/12/harvard-nutritionist-shares-the-best-brain-boosting-foods-you-are-not-eating-enough-of.html

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