The Top 6 Foods to Improve Memory and Brain Function
A balanced diet full of “brain foods” is necessary for optimum wellness. Memory and other cognitive skills, as well as your capacity to carry out daily tasks, maintain balance, and process emotions, are all impacted by the health of your brain. It influences how well you react to pressure, heat, and discomfort.
According to Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D., director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and author of Brain Food, “brain health is a critical component of our overall health, underpinning our ability to communicate, make decisions, solve problems, and live a productive and useful life at all ages.”
It’s kind of an obvious-brainer (no pun intended) when it comes to what to consume to keep your mind in peak form. Your brain benefits from the same things that are excellent for the rest of your body. It helps to load up on nutritious foods, plant-based foods, and a variety of vibrant fruits and vegetables. In fact, dietary patterns that emphasize plant-based foods and limit animal and processed foods are associated with both improved brain health and a lower chance of developing disorders related to the brain. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are examples of plant-based foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and (in some circumstances) healthy fats that support your brain health over the course of your lifetime.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in oily fish, making them one of the best diets for memory. Your brain is about 60% fat, and 50% of that fat is made up of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are known to enhance memory and learning and are important in the development of the brain and nerve cells. Additionally, studies show that consuming fatty fish like salmon, trout, and sardines can delay the effects of aging on the brain and ward against diseases like Alzheimer’s (progressive memory loss).
Low amounts of DHA may raise the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and memory loss, whereas adequate levels of both EPA and DHA are thought to aid in stress management and the production of the mood-enhancing brain chemical serotonin.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you might want to include seeds like flaxseed, hemp, and chia in your diet or think about taking a microalgae-based plant-based omega-3 supplement. Speak with your doctor before taking any supplements if you’re thinking about it. It’s vital to keep in mind that vegetarian or vegan expectant mothers, as well as those who are breastfeeding, should think about taking a supplement because omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for the development of your baby’s central nervous system.
A balanced diet must include whole grains, which are also proven to enhance cardiovascular health. Examples of such grains are whole wheat, oats, barley, and brown rice. Less widely known is the fact that many whole grains include a lot of vitamin E, a vital antioxidant that protects the nervous system by lowering the amount of free radicals in the body. Whole grains are a fantastic alternative for increasing vitamin E intake because experts recommend ingesting vitamin E in its natural form rather than through supplements.
The brain need energy to function, just like the rest of your body. A sufficient and consistent supply of energy (in the form of glucose) to the brain is necessary for concentration and focus. To do this, choose whole grains with a low glycemic index (GI), which indicates that they slowly release energy into the bloodstream, keeping you intellectually sharp all day. Brain fog and anger may result from eating too little whole grains and other healthful carbohydrates. Choose granary bread, rice, pasta, and ‘brown’ wholegrain cereals.
A legume with a superior nutritional profile is peanuts. They are rich in protein and unsaturated fats, which maintain a person’s energy levels throughout the day.
In addition, peanuts contain significant amounts of vitamin E and resveratrol, two essential vitamins and minerals for maintaining brain function.
An organic non-flavonoid antioxidant called resveratrol can be found in rhubarb, mulberries, and peanuts. Resveratrol may have preventive effects, according to research from a review paper, such as aiding in the prevention of cancer, inflammation, and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Raw cacao and dark chocolate
Flavonols, a plant ingredient that guards against cell deterioration and aids in the reduction of inflammation, are found in dark chocolate along with antioxidants. According to research, eating dark chocolate is associated with increased memory and brain health. Stick to a 1-ounce serving of raw cacao or dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao for the best results.
“Raw cacao (cocoa) is a rich source of theobromine, an antioxidant with vasodilating effects, which means it improves blood flow to the brain,” claims Mosconi. “Hot chocolate is a good way to give your brain a quick energy boost.” “Hot chocolate is made with raw cacao powder, hot water, and unsweetened plant-based milk like almond or oat milk.”
Iron, which helps form the coating that shields neurons and controls the creation of the neurotransmitters and chemical pathways involved in mood, is abundant in dark chocolate.
According to a cross-sectional survey of more than 13,000 adults conducted in 2019, those who consume dark chocolate on a regular basis had a 70% lower risk of developing depressive symptoms.
If you stick to dark chocolate and make sure it doesn’t contain too much sugar, dark chocolate also has a ton of antioxidants.
Blueberries top the list of berries that are good for the brain, while all berries are healthy. They provide the body with important minerals like vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and phytonutrients. Improved concentration is a result of these nutrients’ role in promoting the passage of blood and oxygen to the brain. The consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, may reduce the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and age-related cognitive impairment.
Increased consumption of blueberries and strawberries was linked to slower rates of cognitive deterioration in older persons, according to a 2012 study. The research team hypothesizes that this is caused by berries’ abundant flavonoids content, an antioxidant with potential antihistamine, antibacterial, memory-improving, and mood-enhancing characteristics.
According to Purtell, several teas, including green, black, and lion’s mane tea, are especially advantageous for brain health because of their high antioxidant content. Tea also contains L-theanine, “an amino acid that’s been shown to increase concentration and alertness,” he adds. For instance: In a 2021 study, L-theanine enhanced performance on attention and memory tasks in middle-aged and older individuals. Additionally, according to Purtell, lion’s mane tea, a sort of medicinal mushroom tea, helps shield the nerve cells that are responsible for memory in the brain. And it’s understandable why: A 2020 scientific article claims that lion’s mane tea has a wealth of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, making it a superb beverage for the brain.
A daily cup of tea is a great way to get your fill of nutrients that support the brain. Purtell advises that you can consume up to two or three cups each day for the best results. Remember that green and black teas contain caffeine, so limit your consumption in the afternoon, especially if you are caffeine-sensitive. Although lion’s mane tea is naturally devoid of caffeine, it’s always a good idea to check the label to make sure.