There are certain foods that have been found to boost memory and other brain functions when they are a part of a healthy diet. These foods have special effects on the brain that make them superfoods when it comes to brain health. Let’s take a look at some of these brain-healthy foods:
· Blueberries. Blueberries are high in antioxidants. This means that they can be protective of the oxidative stress the brain must take on daily. The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative damage due to its high metabolic load and the fact that it holds a large amount of oxidizable material. Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia are brought on partly by oxidative stress and eating blueberries can stop oxygen free radicals from prematurely aging the cells of the brain. Studies on rats feed blueberries showed that they were able to learn better and have better motor skills than those who didn’t eat components of blueberries. The current recommendation is a cup of blueberries per day. You can eat them in their freshest form or eat them thawed over ice cream or with yogurt. Freeze-dried or frozen blueberries retain much of the healthy antioxidant properties of fresh blueberries and are available year round.
· Fresh salmon. Wild salmon are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, which are indispensable for brain function. Salmon is easy to pick up at any local supermarket and should be taken in 4-ounce servings up to 3 times a week for maximum benefit. You can use cultivated salmon but these don’t contain as much omega 3 fatty acids as is found in wild salmon. Read the package labeling to find out whether the salmon you are buying are cultivated or captured and killed in the wild.
· Seeds and nuts. These are excellent sources of vitamin E, necessary for good brain function. The more vitamin E you have as you age, the less cognitive deficits you will experience. In order to get the maximum effect of seeds and nuts for your brain, go ahead and consume about an ounce of these foods per day. You can choose from among Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, filberts, peanuts, cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter. It doesn’t matter if you consume these foods in their raw form or in their roasted forms as the vitamin E is still good. Be wary of salted nuts if you have high blood pressure because this can adversely affect your blood pressure.
· Avocados. Avocados are great for your healthy brain. Avocado is a fruit but it is considered a fatty fruit because of its high content of monounsaturated fat. Your brain thrives on the monounsaturated fat found in avocados because it increases the blood flow to the brain, allowing it to function better. Avocados are also good for those with high blood pressure—a common problem in the elderly. Because avocados are relatively high in calories, you should restrict your intake of avocados to about a fourth or a half of an avocado per day. It can be mashed into a salad or eaten whole as part of a health side dish.
· Whole grain foods. This includes oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-grain breads. These high fiber foods are not just great for digestion. They reduce your risk for heart disease including stroke. When your heart pumps effectively against clear arteries, your brain is well oxygenated and you can maintain your healthy cognition for many years to come. Try incorporating wheat germ into your diet because of its high vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acid levels. Take a slice of whole grain bread two to three times daily or eat a half cup of whole-grain cereal. Wheat germ can be added to dishes and about two tablespoons should do the trick.
· Beans. Beans are a good cheap food that is good for brain health. Beans provide a steady source of daily energy and can turn the protein in beans into the glucose the brain needs for fuel. Lentils and black beans are especially good but any kind of bean can be beneficial. Aim for about a half cup of cooked beans per day.
· Pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice contains a great many antioxidants, which protect the brain from oxygen free radicals. Pomegranate juice falls under the category of a brightly colored fruit or vegetable—all of which have antioxidants that are essential for brain health. Pomegranate juice can be taken at about 2 ounces per day. It tastes best when diluted with fizzy water or spring water.
· Tea. Drink freshly brewed tea at about two or three cups per day. It can be taken hot or cold and has been shown to increase brain activity, including focus, mood, and memory functions. Use tea bags or fresh, loose tea and drink it soon after brewing for the maximum benefit to your brain.
· Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and caffeine, which brings about better mental focus. It also stimulates endorphin production so you actually feel good. You only need about a half ounce to an ounce of dark chocolate as a sweet treat that your brain will love.