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Top 6 Foods that Boost Brain Power
Maybe you’re already keeping your brain fit with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, learning new languages .... But are you supporting your mental workouts with brain-boosting foods?
Recent research suggests that eating certain foods may actually help keep your mind sharp as you travel from one birthday to the next. The Alzheimer’s Association recently presented several studies linking good nutrition to the prevention, or delayed onset, of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. And the best brain-smart foods are also foods that help ward off heart disease and certain cancers. These nutrition powerhouses help prevent inflammation and oxidation — two key culprits implicated aging and disease.
Top six healthy foods for a healthy brain
My top foods for healthy brain function are rich in healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), inflammation-reducing B vitamins and disease-fighting antioxidants.
The healthy fats found in salmon are the same fats found in your brain. These omega-3 fatty acids are believed to be critical to the proper development and functioning of your brain. The “superstar” of these omega-3 fats is “DHA” (docosahexaenoic), which is found in rich abundance in fish such as salmon. A Chicago Aging Project study found that as little as one meal of fish per week could reduce cognitive decline by 12 percent! If you are short on time, try canned salmon or the salmon packed in a pouch, it is just as healthy and tastes great over a salad. Recommendation: One to two 4-5 ounce servings per week.
The incredible edible egg appears to do incredulous things for your brain. Whole eggs are not only high in protein, and low in calories, but they are also rich in Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. B vitamins may help prevent inflammation and aid in the new brain cell development. Look for eggs such as Eggland’s Best Eggs, or other “higher” omega-3 fatty acids eggs (they even taste better). Recommendation: 4 whole eggs per week.
Like fatty fish, almonds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, but they are also rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E. A Chicago Health and Aging Project study found that getting antioxidants through food was more beneficial than through supplements (consider vitamins as a second line of defense). Raw almonds provide the most benefits, but roasted ones (get unsalted) still offer a healthy dose of omega-3s. Recommendation: 1 ounce, or about 17-20 almonds, every other day (buying in bulk saves you money) or 1-2 tablespoon of almond butter every other day. Keep an eye on calories.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these delicious blue gems are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Both frozen and fresh blueberries are excellent brain foods. When blueberries are out-of-season, buy frozen, unsweetened blues, and throw them into a smoothie, on some cottage cheese, or pop them in your mouth frozen as a candy! Recommendation: 1 cup at least 3-4 times per week. Extremely low calorie so no need to worry!
Research suggests the darker the color of the vegetable (like dark green broccoli and spinach), the higher the concentration of protective antioxidants. Choose dark and diverse colored veggies to cover your bases. If you are not a fan of green vegetables, put them into soups or pasta to mask the flavor. Recommendation: 2 servings per day (1 cup = 1 serving).
Green tea or coffee
A few years ago, European researchers found that individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, consumed far less caffeine than individuals who did not develop the disease. The theory is that caffeine’s stimulating effect increases activity in the brain, blocking the development of proteins associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Both coffee and green teas are also rich in antioxidants. If you are not a coffee or tea drinker, try some of the new green tea flavors on the market. Recommendation: 2 cups per day.
Fitness is important for healthy brain function too
Working out may be a critical component for brain health. Recent studies suggest that a minimum of 15 minutes of physical activity each day is needed to keep your brain fit; however, 30 minutes most days of the week is optimal.