“You are what you eat!” Bet you’ve heard that several times, but hope you didn’t take it too literally! What exactly is brain food anyway? Does it really help to boost your brain? The answer is a resounding yes!
Brain foods are proven to help improve the intellectual capabilities of the human brain. Researches have conducted various cruelty-free experiments on rodents (because we are all rats, let’s be real) and have found a number of foods that will help you, yes, YOU, maybe be the next Megamind!
Rich in Vitamin E, avocado is loaded with mono-saturated fat (fret not, it’s the good kinda fat), which is believed to decrease blood pressure and prevent heart diseases. Moreover, avocados also reduced cholesterol in your body. However, if you are watching your weight, eat no more than half an avocado a day!
2. Olive Oil / Extra Virgin Oil
Olive oil or preferably an extra virgin olive oil slows down the ageing process on the brain due to its high Vitamin E content. A study based on a Mediterranean diet which was rich in olive oil had a positive impact on the functionality of the brain. Some research have indicated that olive oil helps battle Alzheimer’s disease, although more research is needed to prove this point.
3. Dark chocolate
Chocaholics, this is it! FEAST ON! Dark Chocolate improves blood flow to the brain, which subsequently improves cognitive function in the elderly with mental impairment. Based on research conducted by scientists, dark chocolate is believed to temper with your brain wave frequency which improves your memory and reduces stress!
Heavily used in the Ayurvedic industry, turmeric contains curcumin, which is its most active compound and an anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric boosts our brain levels of Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (protein found in the brain… sounds too science-y innit?), to helps fight the degenerative process in the human brain and keeps the immune system healthy! So, when your mum asks you to drink some turmeric water, you best be doing that!
Broccoli contains two vital nutrients that are Vitamin K and Choline. Research has shown that broccoli builds up cognitive abilities and enhance memory. Guess what else a broccoli can help you with? It reduces cholesterol levels, helps in achieving a healthy weight, and helps with the dischargement of your smelly (or not) waste!
Whether you like it scrambled, half boiled, soft boiled, poached or sunny-side up, eggs are a good source of protein and more importantly, choline. The choline in eggs (egg yolk specifically) have been found to boost memory and cognitive function in the brain. Research suggests that the Vitamin B12 found in eggs help regulate sugar levels in the brain. It really is an eggs-cellent way of acing your papers! But… don’t go putting all your eggs in one basket, be sure to actually study!
Aren’t any berries just beautiful to look at? This one in particular is a ‘superfood’. Blueberries are especially rich in antioxidants, which balances oxidative stress in the human body, that subsquently supports a healthy functioning immune system. Studies have shown that blueberries delay motor-coordination and impairment in memory.
8. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, that are known to build cell membranes in the human body. Therefore, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties slows down the degeneration of the brain, while promoting healthier brain cells. It is scientifically proven that the fatty acids in fish help increase the Intelligence Quotient (IQ)… doesn’t that sound ‘Braintastic’?!
Rich in the plant-based Omega 3 fatty acid, walnuts are great for balances oxidative stress and inflammation, which are the two or the many factors of cognitive decline. Additionally, walnuts promotes a healthy gut, reduces risk in certain cancers (prostate, breast and colorectal) and helps in weight control. So, start your journey today, and you wal-nut fail!
10. Red wine
Alcoholics, calm down! This does not mean you can down a bottle of wine. You may if you like to, but don’t sue us!! Red wine, consumed responsibly, protects the brain and maintains a healthy heart. Rich in polyphenols, wine actually boosts brain blood flow. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with water! It is equally as important.
And there you have it, 10 brain foods to help you ace that exam, focus at work or just make you feel great! Happy eating and concentrating! If you’d like to share your favourite recipes for any of the brain foods mentioned above, feel free to drop a comment down below!
Plus, we also leave you with extra information on the role of nutrients in brain foods!
Select nutrients that affect cognitive function
|Nutrients||Effects on Cognition and Emotion||Food Sources|
|Omega-3 fatty acids (for example, docosahexaenoic acid)||Amelioration of cognitive decline in the elderly148; basis for treatment in patients with mood disorders80; improvement of cognition in traumatic brain injury in rodents81; amelioration of cognitive decay in mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease149,150||Fish (salmon), flax seeds, krill, chia, kiwi fruit, butternuts, walnuts|
|Curcumin||Amelioration of cognitive decay in mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease123; amelioration of cognitive decay in traumatic brain injury in rodents89||Turmeric (curry spice)|
|Flavonoids||Cognitive enhancement in combination with exercise in rodents92; improvement of cognitive function in the elderly151||Cocoa, green tea, Ginkgo tree, citrus fruits, wine (higher in red wine), dark chocolate|
|Saturated fat||Promotion of cognitive decline in adult rodents4; aggravation of cognitive impairment after brain trauma in rodents88; exacerbation of cognitive decline in aging humans3||Butter, ghee, suet, lard, coconut oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, dairy products (cream, cheese), meat|
|Vitamin B||Supplementation with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 or folate has positive effects on memory performance in women of various ages152; vitamin B12 improves cognitive impairment in rats fed a choline-deficient diet153||Various natural sources. Vitamin B12 is not available from plant products|
|Vitamin D||Important for preserving cognition in the elderly154||Fish liver, fatty fish, mushrooms, fortified products, milk, soy milk, cereal grains|
|Vitamin E||Amelioration of cognitive impairment after brain trauma in rodents102; reduces cognitive decay in the elderly119||Asparagus, avocado, nuts, peanuts, olives, red palm oil, seeds, spinach, vegetable oils, wheatgerm|
|Choline||Reduction of seizure-induced memory impairment in rodents155; a review of the literature reveals evidence for a causal relationship between dietary choline and cognition in humans and rats156||Egg yolks, soy beef, chicken, veal, turkey liver, lettuce|
|Combination of vitamins (C, E, carotene)||Antioxidant vitamin intake delays cognitive decline in the elderly157||Vitamin C: citrus fruits, several plants and vegetables, calf and beef liver. Vitamin E: see above|
|Calcium, zinc, selenium||High serum calcium is associated with faster cognitive decline in the elderly158; reduction of zinc in diet helps to reduce cognitive decay in the elderly159; lifelong low selenium level associated with lower cognitive function in humans160||Calcium: milk, coral. Zinc: oysters, a small amount in beans, nuts, almonds, whole grains, sunflower seeds. Selenium: nuts, cereals, meat, fish, eggs|
|Copper||Cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease correlates with low plasma concentrations of copper161||Oysters, beef/lamb liver, Brazil nuts, blackstrap molasses, cocoa, black pepper|
|Iron||Iron treatment normalizes cognitive function in young women162||Red meat, fish, poultry, lentils, beans|
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