Many people think a decline in brain function is a natural part of aging. However, a well-nourished noggin is better able to aid every other system in your body. No matter your age, your brain will be sharper if you feed it right. The following foods — full of antioxidants, flavonoids, and other bioactive compounds — will nourish your brain throughout your lifetime.
Savour up to 1 ounce of dark chocolate daily and you’ll consume powerful antioxidants along with mood-enhancing endorphins. Non-Dutch process cocoa is also rich in flavonoids that can improve blood flow to the brain. The caffeine and other natural stimulants that dark chocolate contains can improve your concentration, too. Just enjoy in moderation!
Coffee is good for your brain. Studies show the drink’s phenylindanes may reduce the risk of disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In fact, coffee often supplies the majority of antioxidants in a person’s diet! (It actually contains more essential antioxidants than green tea.) Remember, drink it in moderation (1 to 3 cups a day). And skip the creamers and sweeteners that add unnecessary fat and calories.
Oily, deep-water fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids vital for proper brain function. They regulate neurotransmitters, which are key to mental focus. Lake trout, wild salmon, albacore tuna, halibut, herring, mackerel, and sardines are great sources of fatty acids. Eat 3-4 ounces of these fish two or three times per week for optimal brain (and heart) health.
Scientific research finds that reishi mushrooms have hundreds of bioactive compounds that protect the brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. They also limit the effects of strokes. Reishi mushrooms’ unique Ganoderma lucidum peptide-protein is a potent antioxidant. The spores protect the hippocampus from issues related to diabetes.Polysaccharides and triterpenes are two other disease-fighting compounds found in these mushrooms. Take up to 1,500 mg of reishi powder per day to experience its benefits for yourself.
5-Seeds and nuts
Chia, flax, and quinoa are especially nutritious. In fact, flax is the main source of alpha-linolenic acid, which helps the cerebral cortex process sensory stimuli. Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants as well as minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. A study showed “significant improvement in learning skills, memory, reducing anxiety, and motor development in mice fed a walnut-enriched diet.” Eat an ounce a day of any combination of nuts.
6-Black and green tea
Preferably made from loose tea, the freshly brewed drink contains potent antioxidants that benefit your brain. Many studies link black tea to a range of health benefits, including reducing the risk of stroke. Green tea is high in a type of antioxidants called catechins, which enhance blood flow throughout the body, including the brain. Enjoy two or three cups of tea every day.
Whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease. And a healthy heart pumps blood more efficiently throughout your body, including your brain. This type of grain is also absorbed into your system slowly, releasing brain-fueling glucose over an extended period.Eat at least 1/2 cup of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal, a couple of slices of whole-grain bread, or 2 tablespoons of wheat germ each day. While not technically a whole grain, wheat germ shares many of the same attributes. Other whole grains like barley, brown rice, bulgur, rye, wild rice, and whole-wheat couscous add variety to a brain-healthy diet.
We know water isn’t technically a food, but studies show dehydration causes brain tissue to shrink, upsetting the balance of brain chemicals. Not surprising, since our brains are 85% water! A lack of water also impairs focus, decision-making, short-term memory, and long-term memory recall.