The foods we eat can have a big impact on the structure and health of our brains. Eating a brain-boosting diet can support both short- and long-term brain function. The brain is an energy-intensive organ, using around 20 percent of the body’s calories, so it needs plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day. The brain also requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
1- Oily Fish;
Oily fish contains omega-3 that can help boost brain health. Oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells. They can, therefore, improve the structure of brain cells called neurons.
Examples of oily fish that contain high levels of omega-3s include:
People can also get omega-3s from soybeans, nuts, flaxseed, and other seeds.
2- Dark Chocolate;
Dark chocolate contains cocoa, also known as cacao. Cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants are especially important for brain health, as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases.
Like dark chocolate, many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Research suggests that these may make berries good food for the brain. Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in berries include anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin.
Antioxidant-rich berries that can boost brain health include:
4- Nuts and Seeds;
Nuts and seeds are plant-based sources of healthful fats and proteins. Eating more nuts and seeds may be good for the brain, as these foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Nuts and seeds are also rich sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. As a person ages, their brain may be exposed to this form of oxidative stress, and vitamin E may therefore support brain health in older age.
The nuts and seeds with the highest amounts of vitamin E include:
5- Whole grains;
Eating whole grains is another way to benefit from the effects of vitamin E, with these grains being a good source of the vitamin.
Whole-grain foods include:
Coffee is a well-known concentration aid — many drink it to stay awake and encourage focus. The caffeine in coffee blocks a substance in the brain called adenosine, which makes a person feel sleepy. Coffee is also a source of antioxidants, which may support brain health as a person gets older. One study has linked lifelong coffee consumption with reduced risk of:
Caffeine can, however, affect a person’s sleep and doctors do not recommend caffeine consumption for everyone.
A source of healthful unsaturated fat, avocados may support the brain. Eating monounsaturated fats may reduce blood pressure, and high blood pressure is linked with cognitive decline. Thus, by reducing high blood pressure, the unsaturated fats in avocados may lower the risk of cognitive decline.
Other sources of healthful unsaturated fats include:
Almonds, Cashews, and Peanuts
Flaxseed and Chia Seeds
Soybean, Sunflower, and Canola Oils
Walnuts and Brazil Nuts
Enjoyed by many for breakfast, eggs can be effective brain food. They are a good source of the following B vitamins:
Recent research suggests that these vitamins may prevent brain shrinkage and delay cognitive decline.
Leafy greens, including kale, may support brain health. Like broccoli, kale contains glucosinolates, and leafy greens also contain other key antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. This is why many consider kale to be a superfood.
Peanuts are a legume with an excellent nutritional profile. They contain plenty of unsaturated fats and protein to keep a person’s energy levels up throughout the day. Peanuts also provide key vitamins and minerals to keep the brain healthy, including high levels of vitamin E and resveratrol. Resveratrol is a natural non-flavonoid antioxidant found in peanuts, mulberries, and rhubarb. Evidence from a review article suggests that resveratrol can have protective effects, such as helping to prevent cancers, inflammation, and neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.