Top 10 Highlights
Technically not a food. In fact we’ll admit this is not a food in any respect. However regular exercise is closely linked to improved brain function and a lowered risk of dementia, heart disease and almost any other health issue you care to mention. Not necessarily good for soft tissue injuries as you get older, but even gentle exercise has great benefits. Combined with good diet exercise can only be a good thing.
9. Dark Chocolate
Everything else on this list is so damn healthy it’s nice to include a treat. While eating huge amounts of chocolate is almost certainly not a good thing (the same with most foods in fact), chocolate, dark chocolate in particular, is known to be good for blood flow and circulation in general, has very good anti-oxidant properties and is rich in various vitamins and minerals. Used sparingly this is a sweet brain food.
Well aren’t we lucky having this delicious treat on our list. Avocado is a great source of vitamins E and C, powerful anti-oxidants with strong links to helping with dementia, unsaturated fats such as omega-3, folate, fibre and a whole lot of other great nutrients. Fabulous for the brain and also linked to reducing heart disease and cancers. Wow.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and Brussels sprouts are another great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help with neurone protection and healthy blood flow in the brain. The strong anti-inflammatory properties of these vegetables are wonderful for the brain, providing protection against damage caused by free radicals in the blood.
Low-GI grains that release glucose into the blood nice and slowly keep the brain fed with energy so that you stay mentally agile and alert through the course of the day. Unprocessed grains (‘brown’ foods, not ‘white’ foods) in cereals, bread and pasta are not only great for your mental functioning, they are great in combination with some of the other brain foods.
5. Super Grains
While the ‘standard’ grains in an unprocessed form are great brain food, super grains (seeds actually) such as Amaranth, Quinoa, Chia and Kamut take things to the next level. They have very high levels of protein, riboflavin for brain metabolism, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate (great for women) and phosphorous which helps reduce cell damage. These are pretty cool foods to serve at your next dinner party.
Antioxidants help to prevent the production of chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen that are really bad for neurons in the brain. Tomatoes are known for their rich antioxidant properties, particularly the compound called lycopene. High in vitamins C, A and K, the humble tomato is high on most lists of brain food. Not only that, but tomatoes are a great addition to any salad, sandwich, pasta sauce or cooked breakfast. What a great food.
3. Nuts & Seeds
Many varieties of nuts and seeds have a lot of vitamin E which is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline as we age. They are a also great source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid, thiamine, a key vitamin B that is vital for memory and general cognitive functioning and magnesium which is good for dilating blood vessels throughout the body and brain. Walnuts are widely considered to be an absolutely great brain food. It even has two hemispheres and a wrinkly surface like a brain. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, peanuts and flax seeds are all good.
Research on these little balls of goodness have shown that they can protect the brain from oxidation and may actually reduce the severity of dementia. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants which can damage neurons. Cranberries, Blackberries, Raspberries and Strawberries are also very good on the antioxidants so cram yourself full of these tasty little morsels.
1. Wild Salmon
Salmon is packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids which contain anti-inflammatory substances that are excellent for your brain function. Other oily fish that have a lot of omega-3 include sardines, anchovies, shad, mackerel, tuna, mussels and trout. Be selective though. Wild fish have far greater levels of omega-3 and less fat and omega-6 than their farmed counterparts. Farmed fish can also have higher levels of hormones and dioxins from their food which is typically smaller fish in the food chain.