Food choices have an incredible impact on brain health. They are key factors in maintaining memory and concentration as well as decreasing risk factors associated with neurodegenerative disorders like dementia.
Omega-3 fatty acids help build and repair brain cells, while antioxidants fight cell stress and inflammation. A diet rich in these essential nutrients will ensure your brain continues to work at its optimal capacity.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, packed with vital vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can boost brain function. Spinach, kale and collard greens are among the many available choices that contain this nutritional boost.
Neurology recently published a study showing that eating one serving (1/2 cup cooked or raw) of green leafy vegetables each day could help slow cognitive decline with age. Participants who consumed the most greens — those in the top quintile of consumption or those who ate approximately 1.3 servings daily — experienced slower rates of cognitive decline compared to those who ate fewer or none at all.
Researchers enrolled 960 older adults in the Memory and Aging Project, which assesses their memory and thinking skills annually. Researchers collected information regarding food consumption patterns as well as lifestyle factors.
Consumption of green leafy vegetables was linked with slower rates of cognitive decline even after accounting for age, gender, education level, participation in cognitive activities, physical activities, smoking status, seafood consumption, and alcohol intake (p 0.0001). According to this research study, those in the top quintile had slower decline by approximately 11 years according to research findings.
Green leafy vegetables may help promote brain health due to their abundant supply of essential nutrients, including folate, vitamin K and lutein as well as bioactive compounds like potassium. Furthermore, these vegetables have been shown to protect against memory loss while slowing cognitive decline.
Berries are among the best foods for supporting brain health, thanks to their abundance of antioxidants that may help stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, flavonoids present in berries help defend against inflammation and damage caused by neurons as well as improve memory retention.
Berries are also an excellent source of tryptophan, an amino acid your body requires for producing essential proteins. Consuming more tryptophan can help your body produce more melatonin and serotonin – two hormones responsible for managing your sleep-wake cycle, regulating appetite, improving your mood and helping prevent depression.
If you are looking to increase the nutritive value of your meals and snacks, add berries as they contain vitamin C, K manganese and phytonutrients that can strengthen immunity, lower blood pressure and enhance concentration.
Studies show that eating plenty of berries may help stave off dementia caused by blocked veins and arteries reducing the flow of blood to the brain, and can prevent formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which form with age in our bodies and cause neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Nutritionists believe that including plenty of fruit and vegetables in one’s daily diet is the key to getting all of the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your brain requires for proper functioning. Accordingly, The American Heart Association advises eating two to five servings of fruits and veggies per day.
Nuts are an excellent source of antioxidants and other essential nutrients for brain health. Not only are nuts nutrient-rich, they’re also high in protein and healthy fats, which makes them great for snacking or adding to salads, sandwiches or even pasta dinners.
Studies have demonstrated the positive benefits of regularly eating nuts to improve memory, learning, focus and other cognitive functions in children, adults and elderly people alike. Nut consumption has also been reported as having positive impacts on cognition in both these age groups.
Studies conducted on over 2,200 pregnant women and their offspring revealed that babies born from mothers who ate nuts regularly during gestation fared better on tests of cognitive function, attention capacity, working memory and more. A second research project indicated that elderly adults consuming 20 or more grams per day actually showed significant improvements on memory and thinking skills tests.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenolic compounds which can combat oxidative stress and inflammation – two key contributors to cognitive decline. Furthermore, walnuts contain large doses of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid known to promote mental sharpness and help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Peanuts are also an excellent source of ALA; researchers recently conducted a study that discovered eating peanuts increased certain brainwave frequencies that can promote cognitive health such as information retention, learning and perception.
Niacin, an essential nutrient linked to brain and cognitive functions and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, they contain ample Vitamin E which protects your brain against free radicals which could otherwise cause lasting brain damage with age.
Coffee or Tea
Coffee and tea have both been linked with numerous health benefits, including protecting against depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Both contain caffeine which boosts levels of neurotransmitters in your brain which produce increased focus, energy, and positive emotions resulting in improved focus, energy and mood.
Tea has far less caffeine than coffee; generally between 15-70 milligrams per cup depending on which variety is chosen. Furthermore, it contains less grams of sugar and fat which make it suitable for those with lower blood pressure or cholesterol.
However, both beverages can cause unwanted side effects, so consumption should be done so with caution and in moderation. Studies have revealed that too much coffee consumption can lead to headaches and insomnia symptoms.
Researchers have also discovered that drinking more than six cups of coffee each day may increase your risk of dementia and decrease brain volumes. Therefore, to maintain optimal brain functioning it’s wise to either cut back altogether on coffee consumption or limit how often it is drunk.
Researchers studying over 17,000 UK Biobank participants determined that those consuming six cups or more of coffee each day had a 53 per cent increased risk of dementia and reduced total brain volume and memory test performance. Furthermore, high caffeine consumption was associated with reduced total brain volume and worse performance on memory tests.
An effective solution to combating these issues may be green coffee bean extract. Packed with polyphenols – antioxidants which support brain function – this supplement may be just what’s needed.
Green coffee bean extract was recently shown in a preclinical study to be an effective means of increasing healthy neurotransmitter levels and cell health, protecting against oxidative stress, and decreasing inflammation factors. Furthermore, green coffee bean extract proved successful at helping those suffering from high blood pressure reduce their blood pressure levels through reduced stress levels and better managing oxidative stress. Furthermore, its effect was demonstrated through reduced blood pressure levels for individuals suffering from such conditions.
Dark chocolate provides antioxidants, minerals, and fiber – not to mention less sugar than its milk chocolate counterpart – making it a good option for maintaining a healthy weight or cutting down sugar intake.
Dark chocolate’s greatest benefit comes from its abundance of flavanols derived from cacao plants – phytochemicals which contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and heart disease-fighting compounds.
Studies have demonstrated that cocoa rich with flavanols can improve cognitive function in older adults, particularly working memory and executive functioning. Furthermore, cocoa flavonoids may also enhance blood flow within the brain which could increase mental alertness and concentration.
Studies have also revealed that eating chocolate-rich in flavanols can help combat depression by increasing serotonin levels – an essential mood-lifter chemical produced naturally within our brains.
Dark chocolate’s flavanols may help reduce inflammation in the body and support gut microbiome health, thereby decreasing risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Dark chocolate’s flavanols stimulate nitric oxide production, dilatering blood vessels and improving circulation. Furthermore, this hormone also helps lower blood pressure by decreasing resistance that leads to hypertension in vessels.
Dark chocolate contains flavanols which may help reduce the risk of various diseases and conditions, from heart disease to type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, flavanols found in dark chocolate may prevent blood clots, reduce LDL oxidation, and enhance insulin sensitivity – potentially making for healthier living!