Looking to stay mentally sharp? Did you know that stimulating and protecting your brain could start with what you eat?
In fact, a 2017 study on brain health and nutrition from the AARP found that “adults who eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables report healthier brains and better mental well-being than those who don’t eat those healthy foods.”
Whether you’re looking to slow the effects of aging or set yourself up for a brighter future, there’s no time like the present to start thinking about how what you eat may impact how well you think, feel, and perform.
Here are seven expert-approved foods and drinks that can help promote a healthier mind:
Blueberries? According to many nutritionists and health experts, these little gems should really be called “brainberries.”
Whether you eat them frozen, fresh, or freeze dried, blueberries are positively bursting with healthful antioxidants, and have been shown to help improve the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. As a result, blueberries can help protect the brain from stress, improve concentration and memory, and have even helped to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in older adults.
Salmon has long been considered a powerful “brain food.” This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your brain and nervous system develop new cells. Eating a diet rich in healthy omega-3 acids has been shown to have numerous benefits, including improving memory and brain function and slowing down age-related cognitive decline. Looking to spice things up? Other types of seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, lake trout, herring, tuna, and sardines.
Eggs are rich in many different, healthy nutrients — including some that can have a powerful effect on your brain. Specifically, egg yolks are a good source of choline, which has been shown to help improve brain function by boosting memory and improving cellular communication. Eggs are also a great source of B vitamins, including B6 and B12, which studies suggest can help regulate your brain’s chemistry and ward off symptoms of depression.
4.) Seeds and Nuts
If you’re eating for a healthier brain, you may want to fill up your snack drawer with plenty of nuts and seeds. Many different types of nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E, which has been shown to help slow mental decline in aging people. At the same time, different varieties of nuts and seeds offer different brain-boosting properties:
- Almonds contain compounds that help improve memory
- Pistachios contain an oil that help preserve fatty acids and fight inflammation
- Macadamias help preserve and protect your neuortransmitters
- Walnuts are loaded with beneficial antioxidants, and are rich in a fatty acid that helps decrease inflammation
- Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants and micronutrients like zinc, magnesium, and copper, all of which play a big role in promoting brain health
5.) Dark Chocolate
Snacking on a little bit of dark chocolate doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. Dark chocolate (think 70% cocoa or higher) is full of antioxidants, flavonoids, and natural stimulants, including caffeine. Taken together, the ingredients in rich, dark chocolate have been shown to engage the brain, enhancing focus and helping to improve your mood. It’s probably best to keep your cocoa habit in check though, and stick to just a little bit of dark chocolate at a time. For all its benefits, chocolate can still come with the risk of packing in sugar, fat, and calories.
6.) Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
When you think about your brain health, does the color green come to mind? When it comes to eating for your brain, green can be an excellent guidepost. For instance, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and arugula are rich in vitamins E and K, as well as beta carotene and folate — all of which can do wonders when it comes to helping protect your brain from decay and decline. In fact, one study demonstrated that people who ate just one serving of leafy greens per day appeared eleven years younger in terms of their cognitive health and ability.
Cruciferous vegetables — think broccoli and cauliflower — can also help the brain. Sometimes called “super-veggies,” cruciferous vegetables have been linked to improved memory and focus among older adults. Broccoli, for instance, is loaded with memory-boosting vitamin K, as well as other compounds that give it brain-boosting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
When you’re looking for a short term jolt to your memory, you could do a lot worse than putting on the kettle for a nice pot of tea. Whether served hot or iced, many types of freshly brewed tea contain just enough caffeine content to give you a lift in the areas of focus, alertness, concentration, and mood. Some teas, including herbal teas and green tea, also contain powerful antioxidants that could help slow mental decline.
What’s on the Menu for You?
And now, the Enrollment Specialists would love to hear from you. Do you have a favorite brain-boosting food? Do you do a special activity, such as yoga, to help stimulate your brain? Let us know over on Facebook, where our community loves to keep the health and wellness conversation going.
Don’t forget, when it comes to any questions about your health or life insurance, we won’t let any details slip our mind. Drop us a line today to get the conversation started.