Top Ten Foods to Boost Brain Health
Believe it or not, your brain’s health can be boosted by what you eat. The structure and health of our brains can change depending on diet. In fact, the brain uses about 20 percent of the body’s calories to function. Yes, you burn calories just by using your brain! Your brain requires you to eat food for it to work. But not just any food! In order to feed your brain, you need to eat the right foods. Here are the top foods to help boost your brain health and function.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help your brain tremendously. These omega-3 fatty acids help protect and boost brain cells, also known as neurons. A healthier brain can function better than an unhealthy one. Studies have shown that the presence of omega-3 fatty acids in the body can lead to better thinking and cognitive skills. Fish containing high amounts of omega-3s are salmon, tuna, and sardines. If you don’t eat fish, you can also get omega-3s from chia seeds or a supplement.
Blueberries consist of nutritional properties that provide lots of health benefits. Blueberries and other berries contain antioxidants that combat stress and inflammation. High levels of stress can take a toll on the brain especially if experienced repeatedly over time. Luckily, antioxidants keep the brain from aging and help fight neurodegenerative diseases. Blueberries can also help your memory! They can help prevent short term memory loss and improve overall brain function. Don’t forget to throw a handful of blueberries into your next smoothie, bowl of oatmeal, or salad for a brain boost!
Like fatty fish, walnuts contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which make them the healthiest nut for your brain. Walnuts, and other nuts, have been studied and proved to be good for heart health. As heart health is linked to brain health, nuts are a great option for keeping your mind sharp and your brain young. Nuts have also been shown to help improve memory and overall function due to their antioxidant levels. Walnuts and nuts make a great snack at any time of the day. You can also throw them in smoothies, trail mix, oatmeal, and salads!
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a great source of Vitamin E which has shown to protect cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is when an imbalance occurs in the body and there are more free radicals than antioxidants. Free radicals help fight pathogens which can end up leading to infections. However, too many free radicals can cause tissue damage and other health problems. Luckily, Vitamin E can help prevent this imbalance and can be found in brown rice, oatmeal, barley, whole-grain bread, and whole-grain pasta. If eating whole grains doesn’t work for you or you don’t eat enough, you can always take a Vitamin E supplement.
5. Dark Chocolate
This one may surprise you! Dark chocolate is full of health benefits and it is one of the sweeter things on this list. Dark chocolate contains an ingredient called cacao which is full of antioxidants. Like Vitamin E, antioxidants help prevent oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to brain diseases and functional decline. Dark chocolate can also help the brain learn better and faster and retain more information. These qualities contribute to better memory. So, if you have a sweet tooth or are just looking for a healthier dessert option, go buy a dark chocolate bar without having to feel any guilt.
Eggs are more than just a delicious, filling breakfast food. They are full of nutrients and vitamins that are key for a healthy brain. Eggs contain B Vitamins (B6 and B12), folic acid, and choline. B Vitamins help prevent the brain from declining and regulate sugar levels in the brain. They are also good for your mood and mental health. The lack of folic acid has been linked to dementia. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the brain is one of the most important organs. Make sure to eat your eggs!
7. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds have become more popular in recent years and they are full of reasons to eat them! They are rich in antioxidants and micronutrients like zinc, copper, iron, and magnesium. These four nutrients are very important to the brain since a deficiency in any of these could lead to brain diseases and disorders like brain fog, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
I am sure many are happy to see coffee make an appearance on this list! Yes, your morning pick-me-up is also great for your brain’s health. Before you make another pot or run to your favorite coffee shop, let us tell you what makes it healthy. Like blueberries and the other brain-friendly foods, coffee contains antioxidants that fight oxidative stress. Coffee also contains caffeine which improves your mood, makes you more alert, and promotes concentration. These are all good for the brain in both the short term and the long term.
Even though you probably hated eating broccoli as a child, there was a reason your parents made you choke it down. Broccoli contains antioxidants and a full suggested amount of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is great for improving memory and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Avocados are another trendy food that’s become quite popular. Not only are avocados delicious, but they are also nutritious. They are high in monounsaturated fats which reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to mental issues and decline. Make sure to jump on the avocado bandwagon!
See a Neurologist
While these foods can help to give your brain health a boost, they can’t fix any serious problems. If your brain health is a concern or you experience a neurological disorder, our healthcare experts at Foothills Neurology can help diagnose and treat you. We treat a variety of neurological conditions and even specialize in migraine treatment. Our doctors love providing our patients with a personalized treatment plan. Our Scottsdale location is now open and specifically for headache and migraine-related patient care.