By this stage, we all probably know just how important our diet is to how well we function on a day to day basis. If you don’t, then take it from us: it’s important! Aside from having a huge effect on our bodies and our physical health, food can also have a big impact on our mental health as well. Some foods that we ate can make us mentally foggy and out of balance, others can give us that extra boost we need to succeed. It’s that second category of foods that we’re going to walk you through today! With no further ado, here are the 30 best brain-boosting foods out there.
Though they may be a little expensive, avocados are so delicious and so versatile in the kitchen. Beyond that, they also come packed with all kinds of monounsaturated “good” fats, vitamin K and folate which help prevent blood clotting and all kinds of other health benefits (including brain benefits, obviously).
Although they’re not the most visually appealing foods of all time (and maybe not even best-tasting), but beets are one of the healthiest things you can eat. That’s because these root veggies are great at reducing inflammation, high in antioxidants and even have nitrates—all of which are a winning cocktail for high-powered brain function.
Although all kinds of berries are good for our bodies and brains, blueberries can be particularly beneficial to our health. Perhaps best of all, blueberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods that we know of, which is good for brain health (and for protecting the brain from free radicals). Beyond that, they also have plenty of vitamin K and gallic acid, other protectants that help keep our brains from degrading.
You’ll never do anything wrong by eating more cruciferous vegetables and broccoli is no exception. Like some of the other items on this list, it comes packed with vitamin K as well as choline, an important amino acid for building and replenishing neurotransmitters. Somewhat more surprising is that it also has a ton of vitamin C—who knew?
Remember what we said about crunchy green veggies? Although Celery has few calories per cup, it does have plenty of antioxidants, trace minerals and nutrients that are sure to keep you going throughout the day. Because this mixture of ingredients tends to reduce inflammation, it can help your brain function more smoothly—it can have a similarly transformative effect on your bowels as well.
6. Coconut Oil
Although there were reason studies warning against the high-fat content in coconut oil, don’t fear—it still has so many benefits. Although you should still eat it sparingly (as with any high-fat food), coconut oil is great at lowering inflammation in the body, preventing memory loss and wiping out bad bacteria in your gut. As it turns out, your gut health is directly related to your brain health as well, so this is a two-for-one benefit.
7. Dark Chocolate
Although not all chocolate is equally good for you, the darker the chocolate, the better! That’s right, dark chocolate is actually pretty healthy for you due to its flavanols—a unique antioxidant compound that works against inflammation. Although you should probably still eat sweets sparingly, you can’t go wrong with some chocolate that’s high on cocoa and low on sugar.
8. Egg Yolks
Like a few other ingredients on this list, egg yolks are healthy particularly because of their high levels of choline, a nutrient useful in building neurotransmitters and providing a host of other bodily benefits. Beyond that, the yolk also contains a bunch of iron, folate and other vitamins that your body craves. Although it may be tempting to save calories by eating the whites, the yolk is where most of the good stuff is.
9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Much like chocolate, not all olive oil is created equal. When it comes to brain health, extra virgin olive oil is the way to go—extra virgin means it’s made from the first pressing of cold olives and contains minimal amounts of chemical additives and processing. As a result, it comes packed with polyphenols such as EVOO which are known to improve your memory and learning abilities. Beyond that, it also fights against proteins that can harm the brain as well.
Although rosemary can help make all kinds of food taste more delicious, it also has important health benefits in its own right. As one example, rosemary has carnosic acid, a nutrient that helps to insulate the brain from neurodegeneration. For those who want to take it to the next level, rosemary oil also has a host of its own benefits as well.
When it comes to seafood, fresh salmon is one of the best things you can eat when it comes to brain health. Like some of the other items on this list, salmon comes packed with all kinds of healthy omega-3 fatty acids that help your brain perform at its best. As it turns out, eating enough salmon may even reduce the risk of depression and other brain-related maladies.
Although there are plenty of spices we can add to our food for additional flavor and health benefits, few do as much good as turmeric does. Although its renowned as an ancient healthy herb, few people know exactly why. As it turns out, turmeric contains curcumin, one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals that we can put in our body. Beyond that, turmeric also boosts our antioxidants and protects our immune system. What’s not to like?
Walnuts actually look a little bit like brains and they’re also good for your brain… coincidence? Probably—but still! All jokes aside, walnuts have plenty of brain benefits as they have antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that all reinforce the brain and keep it running smoothly. As an added benefit, they also have high levels of vitamin E, a good nutrient for fighting off Alzheimer’s disease.
14. Chamomile Tea
Although a lot of the foods on this list have to do with boosting your brain or enhancing it in some way, it’s also good to eat and drink things that help your brain relax and recharge. And that’s where chamomile tea comes in. As it turns out, chamomile has plenty of vitamins and antioxidants which help your brain relax and protect it from neurodegeneration.
15. Black Beans
Aside from being a cheap food that goes with all kinds of different dishes, black beans also have some unexpected benefits for your brain. As it turns out, black beans come packed with plenty of folate and magnesium, both of which can help reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
16. Whole Grains
Though there’s been a bunch of backlash against carbs and grains in recent years, whole grains still offer many benefits for our brains. That’s because these grains come packed with fiber, B vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium and so much more. There’s definitely a reason why humans came to rely on them as a food source!
Fitting in the category of healthy, leafy vegetables, spinach deserves a place right at the top. These little leaves have tons of vitamin K, vital for healthy memory and focus. Beyond that, it also has vitamin A which reduces inflammation in the brain and body.
18. Red Wine
Although we’re not saying to go crazy here, red wine definitely has its fair share of brain benefits. Along with its unique flavanoids, it also comes packed with antioxidants and a special chemical called resveratrol, purportedly good for heart health and longevity.
19. Pumpkin Seeds
Much like berries, seeds have all kinds of health benefits that many people don’t know about—including pumpkin seeds. For those who don’t know, pumpkin seeds come packed with magnesium, vitamin B and tryptophan, all of which help to decrease stress and improve our mood. And they’re a great snack to carry with you throughout the day!
Not everybody has even heard of these tiny little berries, which is a shame. As it turns out, blackcurrants have plenty of health benefits for our brain. Because they come packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and flavanoids, they help protect our brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Tomatoes are one of the most popularly consumed vegetables out there, but they have some unexpected health benefits as well. Tomatoes have a unique antioxidant called lycopene which is particularly good at preventing cell damage. In the brain, that translates to less inflammation and more protection against diseases.
22. Dandelion Greens
Though this is one of the more unusual ones on our list, dandelion greens have some unique benefits that are worth looking into. Although you’ve probably heard of fiber and probiotics, dandelion greens actually have a lot of prebiotic fiber in them, a specific type of fiber that’s helpful in growing healthy gut bacteria, which in turn help out your brain.
Though it should come as no surprise that green vegetables are goof for you, it’s worth mentioning asparagus on this list as well. Like the above, it also has important prebiotic fibers that help strengthen the gut. As an added bonus, it also has plenty of folate and other trace nutrients that help fight against inflammation. All good things!
Before Korean food experienced a wave of worldwide popularity in recent years, many people were unfamiliar with kimchi. For those who don’t know, kimchi is a kind of spicy fermented cabbage used in much of traditional Korean cooking. As is true of many fermented foods, kimchi also contains all kinds of healthy probiotic bacteria which boost the gut and, in turn, the brain.
Among the family of cruciferous vegetables, kale is one of the kings. Like other crunchy, leafy greens, kale is low in calories but high in nutrients. Some of its healthy benefits include sizable doses of vitamins C, K and A, along with a healthy serving of potassium and iron as well. Altogether, this leads to better memory and better brain function.
Like many other snackable nuts, almonds boast all kinds of health benefits. For one thing, they’re also packed with omega-3 fatty acids that serve as the building blocks of brain function—but as an added bonus, they also have plenty of vitamin E, which protects the brain against neurodegeneration. If you’re looking for a hearty snack that will sustain you throughout the day, look no further.
Though sage is a staple in any spice cabinet, it’s also a staple when it comes to brain health. Much like rosemary, sage has been said to boost brain functioning through its potent combination of antioxidants and vitamin K. More specifically, sage has been shown to stop the breakdown of acetylcholine, which helps in the process of forming and storing memories.
Although this one may be a little bit controversial, in moderated doses coffee may actually be good for your brain. That’s because coffee contains plenty of antioxidants as well as a hearty amount of caffeine. In your brain, this leads to increased concentration and alertness, as well as a reduced risk of Parkinsons’s and Alzheimer’s disease in the long run.
Though we mostly think of citrus fruits as being good for the immune system, they also serve up some important benefits for the brain as well. When it comes to oranges, the main benefit comes from their hearty doses of vitamin C. Although vitamin C is great for the immune system, it’s also a great antioxidant that guards against mental decline in the long term.
30. Green Tea
Last but not least, it wouldn’t be a complete brain health list without at least one mention of green tea. For those who don’t know, green tea may be even better for brain health than coffee. Though it definitely promotes alertness, memory and focus, it also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that boosts GABA production and can help reduce anxiety. Beyond that, it also has polyphenols and antioxidants to protect your brain from degeneration and decline.
Although you may already be eating plenty of the foods on this list, consider this a reminder to incorporate more of them! In all seriousness, our brain health is so important to leading a fulfilling and satisfactory life. By fortifying your diet with healthy foods, you can lay the foundation for a long and loving life surrounded by family and friends. What’s not to love about that?
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