Foods For Healthy Brain: Certain foods, including fatty fish, blueberries, and broccoli, contain compounds that may support your brain health and function.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Eating certain foods can help you keep your brain in peak working condition.
This article lists 9 foods that support healthy brain function.
1. Fatty fish
Foods For Healthy Brain, When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is often at the top of the list, as it is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids:
Fatty fish can include:
Foods For Healthy Brain, About 60% of your brain is made of fat, and just over half of that fat is comprised of omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memory.
Omega-3s may slow age-related mental decline and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods For Healthy Brain, On the flip side, not getting enough omega-3 is linked to cognitive impairments, as well as depression.
In general, eating fish seems to have health benefits.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Some research also suggests people who regularly eat fish tend to have more gray matter in their brains. Gray matter contains nerve cells that control decision-making, memory, and emotion.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Two main components in coffee — caffeine and antioxidants — can help support brain health.
The caffeine found in coffee has several positive effects on the brain, including:
Increased alertness: Caffeine keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you feel sleepy.
Improved mood: Caffeine may also boost some of your “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as dopamine.
Sharpened concentration: One study found that caffeine consumption led to short-term improvements in attention and alertness in participants completing a cognition test.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Drinking coffee over the long term is also linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The largest risk reduction was seen in those adults who consume 3-4 cups daily.
Foods For Healthy Brain, This could be partly due to coffee’s high concentration of antioxidants.
Foods For Healthy Brain, But drinking too much coffee or having caffeine too close to bedtime can negatively impact your sleep. This can have negative consequences on your brain and memory.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Blueberries provide numerous health benefits, including some specifically for your brain.
Blueberries and other deeply colored berries deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Antioxidants act against oxidative stress and inflammation, which can contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases.
Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Try sprinkling them over your breakfast cereal, adding them to a smoothie, or enjoying them for a simple snack.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Turmeric is a deep-yellow spice that is a key ingredient in curry powder.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain. It’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that may provide the following benefits:
May benefit memory: Curcumin may help improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s. It may also help clear the amyloid plaques that occur with Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Eases depression: Curcumin boosts serotonin and dopamine, both of which improve mood. One review suggested curcumin may improve symptoms of depression and anxiety when used alongside standard treatments in people diagnosed with depression.
Helps new brain cells grow: Curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. It may help delay age-related mental decline, but more research is needed.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Most studies use highly concentrated curcumin supplements in doses ranging from 500–2,000 mg daily, much more curcumin than most people consume when using turmeric as a spice. This is because turmeric is only made up of around 3–6% curcumin.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Broccoli is packed with powerful plant compounds, including antioxidants.
It’s also very high in vitamin K, delivering more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) in a 1-cup (160-gram) serving of cooked broccoli.
This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that’s densely packed into brain cells.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Some research in older adults links a higher vitamin K intake with better memory and cognitive status.
Broccoli also contains compounds, such as sulforaphane, that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and may help protect the brain against damage. Sulforaphane levels are highly concentrated in broccoli sprouts.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Broccoli contains a number of compounds that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, including vitamin K and sulforaphane.
6. Pumpkin seeds
Foods For Healthy Brain, Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants that may protect the body and brain from free-radical damage.
They’re also an excellent source of other nutrients important for brain health, including:
Zinc: This element is crucial for nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.
Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraine, depression, and epilepsy.
Copper: Your brain uses copper to help control nerve signals. Imbalances in your copper levels may increase the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Iron: Iron deficiency is often characterized by brain fog and impaired brain function.
Foods For Healthy Brain, The research focuses mainly on these micronutrients rather than pumpkin seeds themselves. However, since pumpkin seeds are high in these micronutrients, you can likely reap their benefits by adding them to your diet.
7. Dark chocolate
Foods For Healthy Brain, Dark chocolate has a 70% or greater cocoa content and contains brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants.
Flavonoids are a group of antioxidant plant compounds. These compounds may enhance memory and help slow age-related mental decline.
Foods For Healthy Brain, One study also found that participants who ate dark chocolate experienced a positive increase in mood and greater gut microbiome diversity compared to those who did not eat chocolate. The research suggests that dark chocolate may have a prebiotic effect that can improve negative emotional states through the gut-brain connection.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Research has shown that eating nuts can improve heart health markers, and having a healthy heart is linked to having a healthy brain and a lower risk of neurological disorders. One study found that regular consumption of nuts could be linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline in older adults.
Several nutrients in nuts, such as healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, may explain their beneficial effects on brain health.
Foods For Healthy Brain, Vitamin E protects cells against free-radical damage to help slow mental decline.
While all nuts are good for your brain, walnuts may have an extra edge since they also deliver anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods For Healthy Brain, You can get almost all the vitamin C you need daily by eating one medium orange.
Eating oranges and other foods high in vitamin C may help prevent mental decline.
Foods For Healthy Brain, According to one study, having higher levels of vitamin C in the blood was associated with improvements in tasks involving focus, memory, attention, and decision speed.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce the free radicals that can damage brain cells. Plus, vitamin C supports brain health as you age and may protect against conditions like major depressive disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods For Healthy Brain, You can also get high amounts of vitamin C from other foods like bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries.