Smarten Up with Our 7 Best ‘Brain Foods’
When it comes to healthy eating, knowledge is power.
A diet high in fats and low in fruits and vegetables is bad for your body — you know that already. But what research is beginning to prove is that a poor diet also has a big effect on your brain.
And what good is a strong body without a sound mind?
Add these foods to your diet to help keep your mind young and your body strong. There are no mystical rainforest foods or other exotic, expensive eats on this list. These are foods you can find at the local grocery store and use in a variety of ways without breaking the bank.
Now that is smart eating – a key part of proper meal planning.
The incredible, edible egg
Start your day with the inexpensive, but extra-beneficial egg! An egg is packed with nutrients like choline, which studies have shown affects the areas of the brain responsible for memory, learning and reaction times in animals — especially aging animals. It also works in people and could potentially help prevent age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Eggs also have selenium, which has been shown to help brain function, plus a good amount of protein, which is made of amino acids that are used to transmit messages in the brain. A couple of eggs on whole grain toast or used as the base of your veggie omelet are a great way to fuel up your body and mind.
Here’s a berry smart choice
Another extremely versatile food is berries. There are several delicious varieties that can be added to your morning cereal, oatmeal or yogurt — or just grab a handful for a sweet anytime snack.
It just doesn’t get much smarter than berries, which contain antioxidants that help boost your cognition, coordination and memory.
Blueberries and strawberries boast high levels of vitamin C and phytonutrients, which have been found to protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of the tissue degeneration that comes with age — and that helps to ward off scary afflictions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Sorry, Kermit … it is easy being green
Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens contain brain-friendly carotenoids and flavonoids, substances which has been shown to slow mental decline by as much as 40 percent.
Spinach is packed with vitamins A and K, magnesium, folate and iron. Beyond keeping your brain acting young, these nutrients have been shown to relax blood vessels and help reduce the frequency of migraines and tension headaches.
All of these brain boosters are great in a salad, stacked on a sandwich or rolled into a wrap.
Get hooked on fish
Fish is a great protein source packed with the brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function and development. DHA is the omega-3 most associated with keeping your brain young by lowering dementia and stroke risks, slowing mental decline and improving memory as we get older. Try to reel in at least two serving per week of fish.
Nutty and nice
Nuts are well-known for their high doses of omega-3s, but they are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which has been associated with less cognitive decline as you get older.
Research has also shown that dark chocolate provides powerful antioxidant properties – yet another great reason to enjoy chocolate. This sweet treat also contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration.
Here’s the problem: most people overdo it on these two fantastic brains foods. Yes, they are delicious and they do provide great benefits. But, you must limit yourself to an ounce a day of each, and get your fix for sweet and crunchy without going overboard.
*Oh, and we’re sorry, but milk chocolate does not provide the same brain benefits as dark chocolate (deep sigh).
Spreading the word about mustard
Yellow mustard contains a spice called turmeric, which is rich in the antioxidants that help to keep your brain clear of waste that can cause inflammation and help to prevent memory-robbing Alzheimer’s. Plus, a little goes a long way as this benefit can be obtained in as little as a teaspoon a day.
Another benefit of mustard; this calorie-light condiment of choice will add zesty flavor to your sandwich while saving you about 80 calories if you normally use mayonnaise.
Now that you know the 7 best brain foods, be sure to include them in your meal planning. Our program makes meal planning a breeze. Use it and in no time you’ll eat not only well but feel well too – we promise!
John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.