Want A Healthy Brain? 12 Foods That Will Help!

Did you realize the food you eat directly impacts your brain health? It does—eating the right foods can offer your brain some pretty awesome benefits.

We’ve known for a long time that what you eat affects your body, but researchers are now discovering that what you eat impacts your brain as well. The good news is that there are some common foods that can help keep your brain sharp. And these foods are delicious too, so it’s a win/win!

Here are a dozen important foods you can include in your regular diet to keep your brain healthy:

1) Blueberries

Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, calls blueberries, “brainberries.” He and other researchers believe that blueberries may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Experts recommend adding at least 1 cup of blueberries a day to your diet. They can be in any form–fresh, frozen, or dried.

2) Avocados

Dr. Pratt believes that avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health. Avocados are full of monosaturated fats (which are the good kind of fat) and this contributes to blood flow. A healthy blood flow means a healthy brain. You only need to add ¼ to ½ of a fresh avocado to one daily meal as a side dish to reap the benefits.

3) Wild Salmon

Wild salmon is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are important for brain function. Other oily fish that provide the omega-3 benefits are sardines and herring. Experts recommend a 4-ounce serving, two to three times a week.

4) Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in Vitamin E. These have been shown to lessen cognitive decline and ward off Alzheimer’s as you get older. Try to eat an ounce a day of nuts or seeds. Some of the best sources are walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seed, and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter or almond butter.

5) Beans

Beans stabilize glucose (blood sugar) levels. The brain depends on this glucose for fuel. But because you can’t store the glucose, your brain needs a steady stream of energy which beans provide. Any beans will do the job, and you only need to eat about ½ cup every day.

6) Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice (or the fruit itself) offers strong antioxidant benefits which prevent damage to your brain from free radicals. “Probably no part of the body is more sensitive to the damage from free radicals than the brain,” says neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, author of The Better Brain Book.

7) Freshly brewed tea

Two or three cups daily of freshly brewed tea can boost brain power and promote healthy blood flow. Unfortunately, bottled or powdered teas won’t do the trick—it has to be freshly brewed. That’s easy though—just heat a mug of water in the microwave and then add a tea bag to steep. You can drink it hot or pour it over ice.

8) Eggs

Cook them however you like them. Eggs promote brain development, increase motor function, and improve memory. And don’t skip the yolks! They got an undeserved bad rap for a few years, but experts have changed their minds about egg yolks and encourage people to eat them for health benefits now.

9) Spinach

Researchers believe that eating spinach helps prevent dementia, particularly in women. The benefit is found in some other green leafy vegetables as well—kale, swiss chard, and romaine lettuce. One study followed more than 950 adults for an average of five years. The adults who ate a serving of leafy green veggies once or twice a day had slower mental deterioration than those who ate no vegetables, even when factors like age, education, and family history of dementia were factored in.

10) Broccoli

Broccoli may be one of the best brain foods available. Its high levels of Vitamin K and Choline keeps your memory sharp. Studies show that people who eat plenty of broccoli perform better on memory tests.

11) Olive Oil

Real extra virgin olive oil has powerful antioxidants that not only improve learning and memory, but may also reverse age-related changes to your brain. The oil also helps fight against ADDLs, proteins that are toxic to the brain and induce Alzheimer’s. It’s not great for cooking though, because it begins decomposing and losing its health benefits at high temperatures. It’s best eaten at room temperature. You can enjoy it on a salad or with some good Italian bread.

12) Dark chocolate

We’re saving the best for last! A daily serving of ½ ounce to 1 ounce of dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) has some powerful benefits for your brain. It has antioxidant properties, improves blood flow to the brain, and stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood. Don’t overdo this one though! Just a little dark chocolate will give you the benefits without too much sugar and calories.

Diversity is Key

By eating a varied, healthy diet, you can enjoy several foods that boost different parts of the brain. To improve perception, overall cognition, and fact-based memory, vegetables seem to be the most important. For autobiographical memory and visual-spatial skills, however, fruit is the most beneficial.

Eating a variety of healthy foods is the key. Try to fit the above super foods into your diet regularly. Your brain will benefit, and that’s definitely something we all want!