We often hear the adage, “You are what you eat.” This is particularly true in relation to our brain health. The foods we consume have a profound impact on our cognitive functions, including memory, concentration, and mood. This blog post uncovers five of the best brain boosting foods. Incorporating these nutritious powerhouses into your diet can help optimize your mental prowess and promote long-term brain health.

1. Fatty Fish

Often considered the star player in brain-healthy diets, fatty fish tops our list. Why? These aquatic wonders are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats that our bodies cannot produce themselves. Omega-3s play a critical role in maintaining the structure of brain cells, optimizing brain health, and improving cognition (1).

Salmon, trout, and sardines are among the most omega-3 rich fish. These fats are integral to brain health because they help slow age-related mental decline and ward off Alzheimer’s disease (2). A wealth of research suggests that individuals who consume more fish have more gray matter in the brain centers that control memory and emotion.

2. Blueberries

Small but mighty, blueberries pack a powerful punch when it comes to brain health. They’re teeming with antioxidants, specifically flavonoids, which delay brain aging and improve memory (3). The antioxidants in blueberries accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells.

Blueberries also contain anthocyanins, compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Studies suggest that these compounds are effective in enhancing brain function and reducing neurodegenerative oxidative stress (4). So, whether you enjoy them fresh, frozen, or in your morning smoothie, blueberries offer a delicious way to boost your brain health.

3. Turmeric

This deep-yellow spice is a key ingredient in curry powder and has numerous benefits for the brain. The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, crosses the blood-brain barrier, directly entering the brain and benefitting the cells there. It’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has been found to delay brain aging, improve memory, and help new brain cells grow, thanks to its brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) boosting property (5).

Curcumin also eases depression by boosting serotonin and dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters (6). Moreover, studies show it may help clear the amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease (7). Incorporate turmeric into your meals, or consider a turmeric supplement to tap into its brain-boosting benefits.

4. Broccoli

Packed with powerful plant compounds and rich in anti-inflammatory effects, broccoli is a true brain food. It’s high in antioxidants and vitamin K, believed to support brain health. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that’s densely packed into brain cells (8).

Additionally, broccoli contains a host of compounds that give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may help protect the brain against damage (9). Consider adding more broccoli to your diet to enjoy these benefits, whether it’s lightly steamed, roasted, or added to salads.

5. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are packed with antioxidants and a rich source of magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. Each of these nutrients is important for brain health:

  • Zinc: This element is crucial for nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and Parkinson’s disease (10).
  • Magnesium: Essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraines, depression, and epilepsy (11).
  • Copper: Your brain uses copper to control nerve signals (12). And when copper levels are out of whack, there’s a higher risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Iron: Iron deficiency is often characterized by brain fog and impaired brain function (13).

The antioxidants in pumpkin seeds help protect the body and the brain from free radical damage. You can enjoy them raw or roasted, as a snack, or in salads and baking.

Conclusion

So there you have it — five powerful brain-boosting foods to help you maintain optimal cognitive health. While incorporating these foods into your diet is essential, remember that balance is key. Consuming a variety of nutritious foods, staying hydrated, getting regular exercise, and having sufficient sleep are all integral parts of a brain-healthy lifestyle.

Author

Andrew Lenon is a naturopathic physician based in Windsor, California. He frequently recommends Research Verified products to his friends and clients and was delighted to be asked to write for the blog. His primary hobbies include golf, paddleboarding, and sampling the locally grown wine, but the fact of the matter is that his favorite pastime is anything that can be done with his wife, children, and their pet dog, Angelica.

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