The brain is REALLY complex, so complex that scientists are still trying to unravel the mystery of how exactly it works. What we do know is that as we age, we tend to see a cognitive dip including memory loss, slowed processing, and loss of executive functions. We also know that diet can really impact the brain’s health and function, potentially slowing the aging process and cognitive decline. With more cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia (as well as other brain health issues) on the rise, we need to bring awareness to the importance of how we eat and the nutrients we consume.
To help get your brain in tip-top shape here are seven of our favorite powerful brain foods.
This food is number 1 for so many reasons- including that it’s absolutely delicious, but also because cocoa contains flavonols – which are brain-healthy nutrients that can help to lower blood pressure in the brain and can also help to protect the blood vessels in both the heart and the brain overall. Add cocoa powder (raw and unprocessed) to your smoothie or have a 1 oz piece of 70-80% dark chocolate.
Pumpkin seeds are a powerful brain food due to their zinc content and they’re also a source of healthy, anti-inflammatory fats too. Zinc may help to promote communication within the brain and may also help to improve memory and cognition as well. Try adding pumpkin seeds to your favorite trail mix or add to your morning oatmeal.
Avocados are a major favorite of ours because they’re versatile and also so good for both your brain and body. Avocados are a source of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats that may help to promote healthy cholesterol, as well as vitamin K and folate that both help to prevent clots in the brain and body overall. Although they’re a fruit- avocados are low in sugar and also contain the most protein of any other fruit. Add avocado to your favorite smoothie or salad for a healthy boost.
Beets often get a bad wrap as they are often thought to contain more sugar and starches than what’s healthful, however they are actually packed with healthful nutrients that are both good for the body and the brain. Beets contain a particular type of nitrate that helps to boost blood flow to the brain and to the body as well. Enhanced blood flow can both improve energy and mental performance as well. Beets also contain anti-inflammatory nutrients called anthocyanins that can help to repair cellular damage within the body and inflammation as well.
Broccoli is in fact as good for you as you’ve heard. Broccoli is not only a source of colon-healthy fiber, but it’s also a source of brain-healthy nutrients like b-vitamins and folate that help to improve DNA health and also promote healthy blood flow to the brain. Finally, broccoli is a source of choline- a key nutrient for brain health, nerve health and may also help to promote a sharp mind. Add broccoli to your juice, or cook it and add to your favorite salad or dinner meal.
Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard):
Green leafy vegetables (the darker the green the better) contain nutrients like antioxidants, b vitamins and folate that are key for brain health. Researchers found that those who ate 1-2 servings of leafy greens daily experienced slower cognitive decline than those who didn’t. Try adding more greens to your daily juice or smoothie or have an extra salad in your day to reach an extra serving or two of these power-packed leafy veggies.
Rosemary is an all-time favorite herb that’s great not only for seasoning your food but also contains carnosinic acid that can help to protect the brain from neurodegeneration- including Alzheimer’s, strokes and age-related cognitive decline. Rosemary contains anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that help to promote overall brain health and protect the body in general from damage that can contribute to cellular damage.