As the control centre of your body, the brain it's in charge of keeping your heart beating and lungs breathing; allowing you to move, feel and think.
The foods you eat play a role in keeping your brain healthy and can improve specific mental tasks, such as memory and concentration.
This type of fish includes salmon, trout and sardines, which are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. About 60% of your brain is made of fat, and half of that fat is the omega-3 kind.
Your brain uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memory. Omega 3-s also have a couple additional benefits for your brain.
- they may slow age-related mental decline and help ward off Alzheimer's disease
- not getting enough omega-3s is Iinked to learning impairments, as well as depression
Two main components in coffee,caffeine and antioxidants, help your brain. The caffeine in coffee has a number of positive effects on the brain, including:
- Increased alertness: Caffeine keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you sleepy
- Improved mood: Caffeine may also boost some of your "feel-good" neurotransmitters, such as serotonin
- Sharpened concentration: One study found that when participants drank one large coffee in the morning or smaller amounts throughout the day, they were more effective at tasks that required concentration
- Drinking coffee over the long term is also Iinked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Blueberries provide numerous health benefits, including some that are specifically for your brain. Blueberries and other deeply colored berries deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Antioxidants act against both oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions that may contrìbute to brain ageing and neurodegenerative diseases. Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells.
This deep-yellow spice is a key ingredient in curry powder and has a number of benefits for the brain. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there. It's a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has been Iinked to the following brain benefits:
- May benefit memory: Curcumin may help improve memory in people with Alzheimer's. It may also help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of this disease
- Eases depression: It boosts serotonin and dopamine, which both improve mood. One study found curcumin improved depression symptoms just as much as an antidepressant over six weeks
- Helps new brain cells grow: Curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. It may help delay age-related mental decline, but more research is needed.
Broccoli are packed with powerful plant compounds, including antioxidants. They are also very high in vitamin K, delivering more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake. This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that is densely packed into brain cells. A few studies in older adults have Iinked a higher vitamin K intake to better memory. Beyond vitamin K, broccoli contains a number of compounds that give anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may help protect the brain against damage.
Pumpkin seeds contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage. They're also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. Each of these nutrients is important for brain health:
- Zinc: This element is crucial for nerve signalling. Zinc deficiency has been Iinked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, depression and Parkinson's disease.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium Ievels are Iinked to many neurological diseases, including migraines, depression and epilepsy.
- Copper: Your brain uses copper to help control nerve signals. And when copper Ievels are out of whack, there's a higher risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's.
- Iron: Iron deficiency is often characterised by brain fog and impaired brain function.
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are packed with a few brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants. Flavonoids are a group of antioxidant plant compounds. The flavonoids in chocolate gather in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory.
Research has shown that eating nuts can improve markers of heart health, and having a healthy heart is linked to having a healthy brain. Several nutrients in nuts, such as healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamin E, may explain their brain-health benefits. Vitamin E shields cell membranes from free radicals damage, helping slow mental decline. While all nuts are good for your brain, walnuts may have an extra edge, since they also deliver omega-3 fatty acids.
You can get all the vitamin C you need in a day by eating one medium orange.
Doing so is important for brain health, since vitamin C is a key factor in preventing mental decline. Eating sufficient amounts of vitamin C-rich foods can protect against age-related menta! decline and Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage brain cells. Plus, it supports brain health as you age. You can also get excellent amounts of vitamin C from bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes and strawberries.
Eggs are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate and choline. Choline is an important micronutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory. Nevertheless, many people don't get enough choline in their diet. Eating eggs is an easy way to get choline, given that egg yolks are among the most concentrated sources of this nutrient. Adequate intake of choline is 425 mg per day for most women and 550 mg per day for men, with just a single egg yolk containing 112 mg. Furthermore, the B vitamins have several roles in brain health. To start, they may help slow the progression of mental decline in the elderly. Also, being deficient in two types of B vitamins folate and B12 has been linked to depression. Folate deficiency is common in elderly people with dementia, and studies show that folic acid supplements can help minimise age-related mental decline. B12 is also involved in synthesising brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels in the brain.
As is the case with coffee, caffeine in green tea is able to boost brain functions.
In fact, it has been found to improve alertness, performance, memory and focus.
There is another compound present in green tea which plays a key role in boosting brain functionalities, L-theanine. This amino acid is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed. Furthermore, it will increase the frequency of alpha-waves in the brain, enhancing relaxation without feeling tired.
Green tea is also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that may protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.