Brain foods provide nourishment to one of the most important organs in your body. Some of the best brain foods include oily fish, broccoli, avocados, berries, nuts, olive oil, and green tea. These foods contain brain-boosting nutrients that help improve concentration, focus, memory, and cognitive function.
For your brain to function properly, it needs to get enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. A healthy diet can help keep your brain healthy and alleviate many problems caused by a hectic lifestyle.
If you regularly consume good brain foods, you can help to prevent various neuro-degenerative conditions that can impact on brain function.In this article, you will learn about the best brain foods that support brain health.
How Foods Affect Your Brain Power
Everything we eat has some kind of effect on our brain function. When it comes to brain-enhancing foods, some foods are better than others.
The journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience reported on research into the impact of nutrition on brain health. Scientists have found that there is a connection between foods we eat and a healthy brain. Specific nutrients can affect emotions and brain function.
For example, omega-3 fatty acids in foods help to promote good brain health. Other good foods for a healthy brain should include vitamins A, D, and B-group vitamins. Also, calcium, copper, iron, and zinc are found in foods that help increase brain power.
Scientists have also found that there is a connection between foods we eat and our ability to remember, make judgments, reason, and solve problems. Certain foods help stimulate the production of hormones and chemicals in the brain. Also, the health of your gut’s microbiota can directly affect your brain function.
One of the reasons to include healthy brain foods in your diet is that they help to reduce inflammation, stress, high blood pressure, and even anxiety disorders.
Best Brain Foods
Let’s look in more detail at the best brain foods to help boost cognitive function, memory, focus, and concentration.
Oily Fish is Good for Your Brain
One of the best foods to include on a brain diet is fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines.
The reasons why oily fish is a food that boosts brain power is due to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. A 2015 review on the effects of omega-3 on the brain found that it helps protect the brain against the effects of brain aging. Researchers found that consuming omega-3 helps protect brain function.
In fact, some studies show that a lack of omega-3 in the diet can actually impair brain function and speed up the aging process.
Other studies have found that people with mental health disorders such as depression and schizophrenia often have depleted omega-3 levels. Also, regularly taking omega-3 supplements can help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
One study found that omega-3 foods help improve memory in healthy older adults and help lower the risk of cognitive impairment.
A 2016 study recommended that foods containing vitamin B12 and omega-3 are essential to nourishing a healthy brain and keep it functioning properly. (7) In fact, some studies have shown that high dose omega-3 can help repair brain tissue after a traumatic injury.
Fruits and Vegetables Improve Brain Health
Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet is not just good for your brain but also for your general health.
A 2018 prospective study found that green leafy vegetables contain most of the nutrients essential to feed the brain. Leafy greens contain vitamin K, lutein, B-carotene, folate, and other nutrients that help to prevent a decline in brain function.
A meta-analysis carried out in 2017 found that consumption of fruits and vegetables has many brain-health benefits. The results of 9 studies showed that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can help to boost and strengthen your brain.
Many studies also show that the Mediterranean diet includes foods that are great to improve brain health. Oily fish, olive oil, and fresh vegetables that are high in antioxidants and have many cognitive benefits. Scientists report that a diet rich in these foods helps prevent brain disorders such as dementia or decreased brain function.
What are some of the best vegetables that are excellent for brain power? Let’s look in more detail at how brain foods such as broccoli, kale, avocado, and beets can support brain health.
Broccoli is important for brain health
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable with anti-inflammatory properties important for brain health.
The reason why broccoli is classed as a brain-boosting food is that it contains sulforaphane. Researchers have found that this sulfur compound has a protective effect on neurological health. Foods containing sulforaphane help protect against various brain diseases and prevent oxidative stress in the brain.
Kale has brain-boosting nutrients
Another vegetable that is an excellent brain food is kale. This green leafy vegetable has many of the nutrients your brain needs to function well.
The United State Department of Agriculture says that gram for gram, kale has more vitamin C than an orange. A 1-oz. serving of kale gives you 33 mg of vitamin C which is more than half of your daily vitamin C needs.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant for your general health. However, studies have shown that vitamin C can also positively affect your mood. (14)
Kale is good to help increase brain power because it is a rich source of vitamin K. A 1-oz. serving of kale gives you all of your daily requirements! (12)
The journal Nutrients reported that vitamin K is especially important for the brain health of elderly people. Dietary vitamin K helps to positively affect cognitive processes and boost brain health in people over 60.
Avocados are good brain foods
Eating avocados regularly may help to improve your memory, attention span, and brain power. Avocados are a good source of healthy fats and the brain-boosting amino acid lutein.
The journal Nutrients reported that lutein levels in the brain are connected with better cognitive function. A randomized controlled trial over a 6-month period found that eating an avocado a day helped to improve memory and increase attention. The researchers concluded that avocados are a food with benefits for brain health.
Beets help increase brain power
Red beetroot contains many nutrients that nourish your brain to help keep it working well.
A 2015 review into the benefits of beets in increasing brain power found that beetroot has many benefits for your brain. Consuming beets help to reduce the effects of oxidative stress on the brain. This helps the brain to function better and helps prevent cognitive decline.
Other studies have shown that beets contain nitrate that helps lower blood pressure and increases blood flow to the brain. In some cases, consuming 500 ml beetroot juice helped boost brain power and increase working memory.
Eggs are Good for Your Brain
One way to boost your brain power and help prevent losing cognitive ability is to eat a moderate amount of eggs. Eggs have had some bad publicity due to their levels of cholesterol. However, you may be surprised to find that eggs are healthy for you.
For example, a 2017 study involving nearly 2,500 men found that dietary cholesterol in eggs had a protective effect on brain health. Researchers found that moderate egg consumption boosted brain performance.
One of the reasons why eating eggs is good for your mind is that they contain a compound called choline. This is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that is connected with increased cognitive power.
Scientists suggest that this increase in brain power may help to prevent cognitive decline that can cause Alzheimer’s disease. Eggs also contain B12 which has been shown to be essential for a healthy brain.
Berries are Super Brain Food Snacks
If you are looking for a super-healthy snack to give your brain a boost, then adding berries to your diet is a good idea. Most berries have antioxidants and other nutrients that act as brain food and help improve memory and concentration.
The journal PLoS One reported on the results of a trial to see the effect of berries on cognitive health. Over a 5-week period, 40 adults consumed a mixed berry and tomato drink of 200 ml berry juice 3 times a day. At the end of the trial, scientists noted an improvement in brain function and memory.
The mixed berry drink also had many cardiovascular benefits as well as preventing cognitive decline. Other studies have shown that berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, and elderberries, help improve motor performance.
Blueberries help improve focus
To help improve your memory and increase levels of concentration, include regular servings of blueberries in your diet. A study into the brain-boosting properties of blueberries found that they contain antioxidants beneficial for brain health. Supplementing the diet with blueberry juice over a 12-week period resulted in better memory function.
Scientists found that glucose in blueberries also help give the brain energy to help it perform better. One controlled trial in 2018 found that consuming a cup of blueberries daily helped improve concentration and resulted in a better outcome when performing mentally-challenging tasks.
Blackberries increase brain power
Eating more blackberries can help to strengthen your brain and allow it to perform better under pressure. Studies into the nutritional value of blackberries show that they have many of the nutrients required for good brain health. Blackberries are a good source of vitamins C and K as well as potent antioxidants.
A trial involving rats showed that blackberries have the potential to boost brain power, improve memory performance, and positively affect cognitive health. (24)
Nuts are Great Brain Snacks
If you are looking for a great snack to improve your memory, concentration, and brain power, then increase your dietary intake of nuts. Nuts are nutrient-dense and energy-dense foods that can give your brain an instant boost. For example, nuts help to improve cerebral blood flow that helps improve brain performance.
Studies have also shown that nut consumption can help to treat and prevent a number of neuro-degenerative diseases. Even just a moderate consumption of nuts daily can help to improve brain power and prevent the effects of aging on the brain. A 2014 cohort study involving over 16,000 women in their 70s found a link between higher nut consumption and better brain function.
Walnuts are excellent foods for brain health
One of the best memory-enhancing foods that you can snack on is probably walnuts. Walnuts are among the best brain foods because they contain omega-3 fatty acids, folate, melatonin, and antioxidants. One study found that walnuts have the potential to improve memory, learning ability, and reduce anxiety.
One trial involving young adults found that walnut consumption helped increase brain power because it helped improve the brain’s ability to process thoughts.
Dark Chocolate Gives your Brain Energy
Dark chocolate contains a number of antioxidants that help improve the health of your brain.
A 2018 study examined the effect on the brain when consuming dark chocolate. Scientists found that eating dark chocolate increased electrical activity in the brain. This could help increase brain power, especially if you have to undertake complex mental tasks. The research also suggested that dark chocolate has the potential to improve memory performance.
The results of other studies on the brain-boosting properties of dark chocolate have also shown positive results. Consuming dark chocolate has been linked to a lower risk of stroke, memory impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and anxiety-related issues.
If you want to eat chocolate as a healthy brain food, you should choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao solids.
Olive Oil for Good Brain Health
Olive oil is among the excellent brain foods that help to keep your mind sharp and alert as you age.
Research into the benefits of olive oil found that its anti-inflammatory properties help to protect the brain. Regularly consuming olive oil results in better cognitive performance and can help lower blood pressure.
One study looking at how olive oil can nourish the brain found that diets rich in olive oil have many health benefits. High olive oil consumption seemed to help improve visual memory and prevent cognitive dysfunction.
Coconut Oil to Boost Brain Power
Coconut oil contains nutrients that are beneficial for nourishing and feeding your brain. The positive effect of coconut oil as a good brain food was shown in a 2017 study. Alzheimer’s patients who received 40 ml of coconut daily improved cognitive performance over a 21-day period.
Fermented Foods for Brain Health
Foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, kimchi, and miso are important for brain health because they boost your gut microbiota. The journal Preventive Nutrition and Food Science reported that consuming fermented foods has a positive effect on brain health. Fermented foods allow probiotics to flourish in the gut which help improve both digestion and brain function.
Some of the benefits to your brain from fermented foods include improved cognitive function, better memory, protection against oxidative stress, and fewer signs of depression.
Spices for Memory and Concentration
You can add certain spices to foods to help improve your memory, brain function, and concentration levels. Let’s look at how turmeric and ginger are good foods for your brain.
Turmeric may help prevent cognitive decline
The wonderful golden spice turmeric has brain-boosting potential that can help prevent cognitive decline. A review of clinical studies on the effects of turmeric found that this spice can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. The benefit of turmeric for the brain is due to the compound curcumin. The results of many studies have shown that curcumin enhances the brain’s potential and helps prevent cognitive aging.
One trial involving mice found that turmeric has the potential to improve learning and memory function. The scientists suggested that turmeric could be used to treat stress-related amnesia.
Ginger boosts brain function
Ginger is a root similar to turmeric that is also good for your brain and mental health. Studies have shown that taking ginger can boost brain power in middle-aged persons. One study found that taking ginger extract at a dose of 800 mg daily helped enhance brain power over a 2-month period. Ginger improved working memory, recognition, and concentration levels.
One trial found that the ginger compound 6-shogaol positively impacts brain function and can help delay the onset of dementia.
Green Tea Helps the Brain Function Better
Green tea is a great energizing drink for your mind that can help to increase your concentration levels.
The brain-boosting effect of green tea comes from the compound l-theanine. This amino acid helps improve mental performance and attention. Also, green tea contains caffeine that helps give the brain more energy.
One study found that the combination in green tea of l-theanine and caffeine has a greater effect on improving memory, attention, and working memory. Green tea also has a beneficial effect on the brain in helping to reduce anxiety.
Herbs that Boost Brain Power
Adding certain herbs or herbal supplements to your food can also have a brain-enhancing effect:
Studies have shown that sage is a brain-healthy food that enhances brain function and helps to increase memory potential. The positive effect of sage on brain health also protects against neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Research shows that sage can affect a person’s cognitive abilities and may have a potential in treating neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Another clinical trial published on 2017 showed that patients with mild to moderate forms of the disease improved their cognitive skills and experienced less agitation after taking sage for four months.
Scientists explain that sage’s positive effects on the brain probably have to do with a combination of chemicals that also inhibit an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which disturbs neurotransmitters’ function in patients with Alzheimer’s. Further studies are expected to establish how sage could contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s medications, which currently cause a lot of unwanted side effects. (43)
A randomized controlled trial found that dried rosemary leaf powder helps to boost brain performance. Taking 750 mg of dried rosemary daily helped improve memory performance in elderly people.
Peppermint helps against mental fatigue
A 2018 study on the effects of peppermint on humans found that peppermint oil helps reduce mental fatigue and improve mood. Consuming peppermint oil capsules helped increase brain power in healthy adults and increase mental endurance.
Even inhaling peppermint oil aromas helped to increase alertness and enhance memory.