What are the best foods for brain health? Below we discuss what brain healthy foods you should consider adding to your regular diet for a sharp, healthy mind.
Your brain is perhaps the single most important organ in your body - besides your heart, that is. It helps your mind think, your body move, your lungs breathe and so much more. Your brain has many tasks and works hard to keep you functioning, so it’s crucial to properly nourish it to keep it healthy.
Research suggests that certain foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3s can help support a healthy brain. Let’s look at which foods are the best foods for brain health.
Green, leafy vegetables
Leafy greens are rich in vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, lutein and beta carotene. Regarding what these nutrients do, vitamin K and beta carotene have been linked to helping prevent memory loss and supporting healthy cognition. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, so it helps protect cells from damaging free radicals. Foods rich in these nutrients include spinach, kale, collard greens and even broccoli.
Nuts in general greatly contribute to brain health, as they are great sources of healthy fats and protein. However, when comparing which kind of nut is most beneficial to brain health, walnuts come at the top of the list. This is because they have more antioxidants than other nuts and have a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids (specifically ALA). ALA is a type of omega-3 that is linked to healthy blood pressure and less inflammation. So, not only is this brain food, but it’s also heart healthy.
You’ve likely already heard that fatty fish is excellent brain food, but do you know why? It’s because these types of fish are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which support healthy brain function. They are also great sources of unsaturated fats. Fatty fish are truly all-star players in the health game, supporting both brain health and heart health. This brain healthy food option includes salmon, cod and canned light tuna. If you’re looking for vegetarian options with similar health benefits, other sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds, avocados, or algal oil supplements.
Berries, in general, have been linked to brain health, but blueberries top the list. They contain flavonoids, which is what gives the berry its bright hues. Blueberries are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and phytonutrients. Berries help blood flow to the brain, which may help support concentration and memory retention.
Coffee or Tea
If you love having coffee in the morning, we have good news for you. The caffeine and antioxidants found in coffee or teas like matcha have been linked to increased concentration. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University conducted a study asking participants to recognize images from the previous day, which were shown again the day after consuming a caffeine tablet or placebo. They found that more members from the caffeine consumption group correctly identified the images shown, versus the group who took a placebo.
Brain Food = Brain Power
It’s no surprise that certain foods help support brain health, after all, “you are what you eat.” With the passing of time, it’s important to recognize that a sharp, agile mind doesn’t have to be a thing of the past. By supporting your mind with brain healthy foods, you can feel better about your health and wellness in the long term. If you’re looking to support your mind further, read our previous blog “3 Easy Ways to Practice Mindfulness Every Day” for simple techniques to help you re-center when life gets busy.