Your brain consumes 20% of your body’s energy to maintain focus and use cognitive abilities. However, constantly performing critical tasks can deplete your energy reservoir and affect your overall performance. That’s where the brain diet steps in!
It consists of foods that provide nutrients, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids to nourish your energy supply. In this blog, learn the ultimate components of the brain diet and how they improve your cognitive health. Let’s begin!
Orange contains high levels of Vitamin C that helps in the maturation of neurons and the formation of the myelin sheath. The Myelin sheath facilitates neural impulse transmission and prevents neurological problems like sclerosis.
These citrus fruits also contain flavonoids that improve the health of brain tissue. Flavonoids are effective in reducing inflammation and improving blood flow to the brain. You must consume 2 to 3 oranges a day to experience these cognitive benefits.
Regular consumption of strawberries can delay memory decline by 2.5 years as they are rich in flavonoids. These berries also improve brain function and increase cognitive processing speed by 5.2% compared to individuals who don’t eat strawberries regularly.
You need to eat at least eight strawberries a day to reap these benefits. You can enjoy them raw or put them in yogurt, oatmeal, or fresh dairy cream. Avoid putting additional sugar as it can spike up your blood glucose level.
Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins antioxidants that combat inflammation and oxidation in your blood. These fruits also improve memory and cognitive function, boosting your reaction time to external stimuli. Additionally, blueberries can slow the age-related decline of cognitive abilities, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
You must eat at least two handfuls of blueberries per day, which are equivalent to 4 heaped tablespoons. Have them as breakfast in your cereal or oatmeal, or munch on them whenever you feel cravings for snacks.
4. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of essential micronutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper, all of which play vital roles in maintaining brain health. Zinc is crucial for nerve signaling, and its deficiency leads to neurotoxicity and neuronal cell death. Zinc deficiency even enhances the risk of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, depression, and Parkinson’s.
Meanwhile, magnesium is essential for learning and memory, and its low levels are associated with neurological diseases like psychosis, migraine, depression, and epilepsy. Moreover, copper helps control nerve signals in the brain, and an imbalance in copper levels increases the risk of Alzheimer’s.
The American Heart Association recommends a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds intake per day. You can add them to smoothies, granola bowls, salads, soups, and baked goods.
5. Salmons, Sardines, and Anchovies
Salmons, sardines, and anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain health. Omega-3s help build brain and nerve cells, playing a pivotal role in learning and memory. Insufficient omega-3 intake has been linked to learning impairments and depression.
Consuming these fishes can slow age-related mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, regular intake of these fish is associated with increased gray matter in the brain, influencing decision-making, memory, and emotion.
The National Institutes of Health recommends eating 1.1 or 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily. You can intake this amount by eating two servings of fish, which is 3 to 4 ounces of white meat. The healthiest way to cook fish and retain its benefits is through baking:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C)
- Place the salmon fillets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Season the salmon with salt and pepper
- Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork
Eggs are a powerhouse of brain-boosting nutrients, including B vitamins (B-6, B-12, folic acid) and choline. These nutrients play an integral role in mood regulation, memory, and overall brain health.
Choline, found abundantly in egg yolks, is essential for creating acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter for mood and memory regulation. A decline in this neurotransmitter is linked with memory issues, thinking problems, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, eating 300mg of egg yolks per day can boost verbal memory and deliver vitamin B-12 to lower cognitive impairment.
You can have eggs in boiled, omelet, or fried form in the morning to give yourself a mental boost. Or you can mash them and make a bread sandwich for lunch. For dinner, you can have a bowl of noodles and add a soft-boiled egg to it.
7. Green Tea
Green tea is the least processed form of tea and is cultivated from un-oxidized leaves. The low amount of caffeine in these leaves enhances cognition, attention, memory, and focus.
The tea leaves contain L-theanine, a rare amino acid that enhances the operatic performance of GABA. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect to control stress and anxiety.
To fully savor the benefits of green tea, carefully prepare the tea with these steps:
- Select high-quality green tea leaves that tightly roll into a narrow needle shape.
- Heat water to about 175°F (80°C), just below boiling point.
- Put in the tea leaves and steep for 2-3 minutes for a light brew or up to 5 minutes for a bolder flavor.
- Gently sip on the tea and enjoy its benefits.
Your brain requires glucose to function properly and maintain its sharp cognitive abilities. Certain foods can boost your energy levels without spiking your blood sugar level. They can also give you an energy boost without increasing your daily calorie intake.
The brain diet includes a specific set of food items that can deliver a pack of nutrition and improve your cognitive health for the long term. These foods can help sharpen your memory, attention, reasoning, and focus. They can also lower the risk of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, psychosis, and depression. So, incorporate the brain diet into your lifestyle and observe its multiple cognitive-relative advantages. Here’s to a healthier and sharper you!