Our brains are incredibly powerful. From memory to focus to reaction time, the brain is responsible for the way you think, yes, but also the way your body functions. So a healthy brain is crucial, and the right fuel can fire up that health. Insert brain food.
Brain-boosting foods can not only improve how your brain functions on a day-to-day basis, but also help prevent neurological and cognitive diseases. Plus, eating these foods can promote bodily health in addition to brain health. So, you’ve got nothing to lose! In addition to exploring the best foods for brain health, we also tackle the essential vitamins and the supplements you may want to add to your diet to boost brain power below.
Best Foods for Brain Health
The following foods are rich in nutrients that support brain health. From blueberries, which can help boost memory, to omega-3-rich fish, which can slow mental decline, and fermented dairy products, which can help prevent dementia, these are the best foods for the brain.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and trout.
- Leafy greens
- Nuts, walnuts, in particular
- Whole eggs
- Fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, kefir, and sour cream
- Dark chocolate
For a brain food snack, make your own trail mix: combine dark chocolate chips, your favorite nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, and dried blueberries (with no added sugar).
Best Vitamins for Brain Health
All of the above foods for the brain feature key nutrients that support the health of the brain in unique ways. For instance, flavonoids, which blueberries are rich with, have been shown to mitigate cognitive decline during aging. Other important nutrients in brain-boosting foods include Vitamin K, which helps brain cells both grow and survive, antioxidants, choline, which improves memory and mental function, and omega-3-fatty acids.
You can find these vitamins in the above foods for the brain; dark chocolate and blueberries are rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, leafy greens have high levels of vitamin K, egg yolks are the best source of choline, and walnuts and fatty fish are abundant with omega-3s. Another great source of antioxidants? Tea and coffee. Plus, the caffeine in these beverages can also boost mental clarity and focus.
Best Brain Health Supplements
The best way to get these vitamins for brain health is through your food, but not everyone has access to or likes the taste of fish, some are allergic to nuts and dairy, and others simply need more nutrients than they are currently consuming. In these cases, supplements can help support your brain too. Some of the best brain health supplements are:
Turmeric is a golden-orange spice that has gained popularity in recent years for its many health benefits. One of those benefits is helping generate new brain cells, which could help prevent Alzheimer’s. Turmeric’s main compound, curcumin, is also anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce inflammation all over the body, including in the brain. Sure, you can add this spice to your food and superfood lattes, but it’s not a flavor everyone enjoys or one that goes with everything. A better way to attain more turmeric, thus, might be through supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Did you know the brain is made up of mostly fat? Fat comes in many forms, but one of the most important forms that many people aren’t getting enough of is Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for roughly 30% of your brain. By taking an omega-3 supplement, you can boost your intake of these essential fats. Taking omega-3s may also help those with depression.
Many Americans are deficient in magnesium, which is an essential nutrient for brain health. It helps support learning and memory and can even help treat migraine, depression, and anxiety. While you can get magnesium through brain-healthy foods, such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, and spinach, most people aren’t getting enough. In this case, magnesium supplements may help.
Vitamin C is a rich antioxidant that defends against free radicals, which are chemicals that can damage your cells, including those in your brain. Plus, research shows that people who have higher levels of vitamin C have improved concentration, memory, and reaction time. Once again, you can get an ample amount of vitamin C by eating an orange, but taking a vitamin C supplement may be easier to incorporate into your routine.
Before taking any supplement, it’s important to first discuss it with your doctor to ensure it won’t negatively interact with your current medications or state of health.
How To Keep Your Brain Healthy
Eating a healthy diet that features these brain-boosting foods isn’t just good for your brain; it’s good for your whole body. These foods can also help support the health of your heart, which is directly linked to the health of your brain. So, go ahead, fill up your plate with these brain foods and reap the benefits all over.
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