The brain requires nutrients just like your heart, lungs or muscles do. Eating well is good for your mental as well as your physical health. But which foods are particularly important to keep our grey matter happy? Keeping your brain sharp and preventing mental decline involves more than just the brain itself. Healthy practices in many areas of life will help you keep your brain, as well as your body, in top shape.
12 Foods for an Active, Productive, and Healthy Brain
Flax seeds are known for the omega-3s they contain, as well as a large amount of fiber for such a small seed. Both of these will do wonders for the brain over time, and it’s easy enough to start getting more flax into your life. These little seeds can be mixed into soups, added to oatmeal (another item on this list), or added to a green smoothie made with kale or spinach (also on this list) as a brain-boosting pick-me-up.
Garlic is especially helpful for the brain because it has multiple factors that all contribute to proper brain function. It helps thin the blood, which increase the flow throughout the body, including to the brain. It also helps battle free radical damage to the brain, which has been associated with degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s. Lastly, garlic has been shown to be effective in preventing and battling back tumors in the brain. Taking garlic supplements may be an easier way to get the requisite amount of garlic per day.
Lentils are getting more mainstream attention, and it’s because of things like being good for your brain that are the reason. The fiber and antioxidants contained in lentils is what’s given credit, and they help keep the blood circulating to the brain. This can’t be overlooked, as it has a strong impact on how your brain operates on a day to day basis, and with time it can mean the difference between having a healthy, active brain and a sluggish, aged brain.
If you’re not in the habit of having almonds handy as a snack, you may want to establish it. These crunchy snacks can help get you to the next meal, and help you avoid eating unhealthy foods in a moment of intense hunger. They contain a good dose of Vitamin E, which over time can help you maintain your cognitive abilities. These abilities include learning, problem solving, remembering, and paying attention. It’s hard to make the connection between what you eat and how you think, but there definitely is one.
The omega-3s found in salmon are beneficial to the brain, and salmon is often recommended on many diet plans for its high levels of protein. But hands down it is the omega-3s that are providing the most benefit to your brain, as these can actually help you think better, and can prevent the diseases of the brain that we’re all trying to avoid. It can even improve your moods, making you less hostile and depressed if eaten consistently. You can also eat sardines for many of the same benefits.
The potassium in a banana helps the brain, and low potassium levels can inhibit your ability to think clearly and focus. They also contain fiber to help you meet your daily fiber needs, and tryptophan to keep you in a good mood. It is often thought that tryptophan induces sleep, but what it really does is gets your serotonin levels going, which can make you feel calmer and help you sleep. Bananas also contain vitamins that are important for brain function.
Because of their lycopene content, tomatoes have been recommended by the medical community for well over the last decade. They are getting extra attention as of late for the promising signs that they can help prevent Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, dementia, and other degenerative diseases of the brain. Eat your tomatoes cooked to absorb the most lycopene from them, although they’ll still contain some in raw form, cooking them releases much more.
Even though there are a large number of diets advocating getting rid of grains, including gluten-free and Paleo diets, research has shown that whole grains can provide your brain with what it needs to stay alert and on the ball. The reason is that these foods often provide you with improved heart health, which improves your circulation, and also improves your brain. It’s all connected, so it’s important to keep everything flowing well throughout the entire body.
Avocados are a great resource for those trying to optimize their brain cells. First, they have healthy fats that help to increase blood flow throughout the body. They also contain almost as much potassium as a banana, which helps oxidize your brain. They are also great for lowering blood pressure, which in turn helps the brain stay healthy. You don’t have to go overboard with them, simply use it as an add-on to one meal a day.
The antioxidants in green tea is what gives it so much notoriety, and in addition to helping you lose weight and fight off cancer and heart disease, green tea is a boon to the brain. Unlike many of the other items on this list, green tea has been shown to potentially help your brain produce new brain cells, something that for years neurologists thought was impossible. In order to get the best results possible you have to be willing to drink up to two cups per day, and it’s uncertain if the damaging effects of the caffeine in green tea outweigh the benefits.
Perhaps you’ve only eaten pumpkin seeds a few times after carving a pumpkin for Halloween. But they’re getting more and more press for their healthy contents, and they make a strong case for being labeled a superfood. Their magnesium content helps the heart, which in turn helps the brain, and it also helps the body relax. Feeling relaxed puts the brain in a state where it can think better and more clearly.
You may have been aware that carrots are good for your eyes, two very important organs, but they’re also good for your brain. It’s often taken as a given that your memory will get worse as you age, but carrots contain luteolin which helps prevent that from happening. The good news is that you can get this benefit both from eating carrots, or from drinking carrot juice.