Trying to stick to a “healthy” diet can really take a toll. Advice comes from all directions, with countless options at the supermarket; filling your cart with the right foods can seem overwhelming.
While a wholesome diet is key to maintaining overall wellness, it also plays a crucial role in your brain health, something we’re all keenly aware of (especially as we age). If you’re looking to achieve peak brain capacity without spending a fortune, include the following foods in your diet.
Walnuts are a great source of healthy fats: omega-3, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fatty acids, which are known to boost brain function and the development of the central nervous system. Ever wonder why omega-3 fatty acids are referred to as “essential”? That’s because your body can’t produce them on your own – you have to get them through diet, something walnuts can help with. Walnuts are also rich in vitamin E, vitamin B6, zinc, selenium, iron, and magnesium that not only support brain health but also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
High-quality olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols which are a powerhouse of brain-protective antioxidants. It boosts learning ability and protects memory. Researchers have found that the oleic acid found in extra virgin olive oil reduces markers of inflammation and lowers the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease, among others. On top of this, a Mediterranean-style diet that includes generous servings of olive oil has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and promote cognitive function.
This sweet-smelling oil reduces the production of damaging free radicals and enhances the ability of your brain’s neurons to use energy. Coconut oil is also a good source of saturated fats, which help the function and integrity of brain cell membranes.
Our brain is 60% fat and most of that is the essential, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA). Since 30% of the grey matter in the brain is DHA, you can understand how critical it is to maintain a healthy nervous system and brain function. Eating salmon regularly stimulates the growth of brain cells, and has been shown to lower the risk and incidence of depression and cognitive decline in the elderly.
That blueberry shake we all love is more than a delicious beverage; it offers a boatload of benefits for our brain too. Blueberries contain anthocyanins, which have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Antioxidants act against both inflammation and oxidative stress, conditions that may lead to early onset of neurodegenerative diseases and brain aging. Some antioxidants found in blueberries have been found to improve communication between brain cells as well, leading to better memory.
The significant role of turmeric in brain health has been chronicled in ancient Indian texts dating back more than 3,000 years. This golden-colored spice contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound shown to benefit memory, ease depression, and help new brain cells grow.
Several studies have found that consuming turmeric daily improves memory in people with Alzheimer’s and, over time, alleviates depression symptoms just as much as an antidepressant. Plus, it boosts dopamine and serotonin, improving the mood.
Who says you have to turn to expensive supplements to keep your brain healthy? Start including these foods in your diet today and boost your brainpower, memory, alertness, and mood.