9 foods to boost your brainpower
In our previous article we were talking about different factors that negatively affect our brain function. But the most important part of our brain health is nutrition, so which foods can improve and keep healthy our grey matter?
1. Whole grains
Brain needs as much energy as the biggest muscle in your body, if not more. The best source of that energy is carbohydrates that provide glucose in our blood to the brain. But we were told to avoid big amount of carbs in our diet, so where is the middle point? The solution would be to opt for the whole grains with low glycemic index, which gradually release glucose into our bloodstream. If you have never dealt with whole grains in your life – choose rough ‘brown’ wholegrain bread, pasta, cereals and rice.
2. Omega 3-rich oily fish
Unfortunately, essential fatty acids cannot be made by the body so you should get them through your diet. Especially important is omega-3 fatty acids that are naturally found in oily fish, like salmon, tuna or mackerel. You can obtain it from the plant sources too – those include flaxseed, soya beans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and oils made from any of these ingredients. Omega-3 fats are essential for our overall wellbeing, health and looks, but exceptionally important for our cognitive function. Oily fish is the best source, since they contain ready-made form of EPA and DHA fats for you to consume and process with ease. Other than the fish we mentioned there are also herring, pilchards, kippers and sardines. High level of DHA can protect you from Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss, reduce stress and produce serotonin. If you are strict vegetarian and don’t allow yourself to eat fish – consider plant-based supplement with omega-3 fats or include more chia or linseed in your diet.
It turns out that a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes that is called lycopene can provide serious protection against cell damage from free radicals that can cause dementia. The best (and the tasty) way to consume tomatoes is with a sprinkle of olive oil, so your body can absorb lycopene more effectively.
4. Take vitamins
Certain B vitamins – B6, B12 and folic acid – are known to reduce levels of a compound called homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. A study of a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment found that after two years of intervention with high doses of B6, B12 and folic acid there was significantly less brain shrinkage compared to a subset given placebo treatment. Opt for B-rich foods like chicken, fish, eggs and leafy greens.
5. Blackcurrant power
Vitamin C can provide everything to increase mental agility and protect against age-related mental decline including dementia and Alzheimer’s. Although for long time vitamin C was associated with citruses, blackcurrants are your best bet in getting enough of it. Others sources include red peppers and broccoli. By the way, about the broccoli…
Broccoli is great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. Researchers have reported that because broccoli is high in compounds called glucosinolates, it can slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which we need for the central nervous system to perform properly and to keep our brains and our memories sharp. Low levels of acetylcholine are associated with Alzheimer’s.
7. Pumpkin seeds
Richer in zinc than many other seeds, pumpkin seeds supply this valuable mineral which is vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. These little seeds are also full of stress-busting magnesium, B vitamins and tryptophan, the precursor to the good mood chemical serotonin.
8. Wisdom of sage
Sage has its name for some reason – and that is because it improves memory and concentration. Though many benefits are attributed to essential oil made from it, adding fresh age to your diet can benefit you as well. For the best result it is advised to add fresh sage at the last stage of cooking to keep it beneficial oils.
9. Are you nuts?
Vitamin E, that is mostly contained in every kind of nuts can prevent mental decline, especially in elder people, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology study. If you are not a fan of nutty flavor, there are other great sources of vitamin E, such as asparagus, olives, eggs, seeds, brown rice, and etc.