10 Foods that Promote Brain Health
Maintaining a healthy diet is key to maintaining a healthy brain. Sometimes it can be difficult to discern which foods are best for your brain – and for your heart. Blood pressure, blood circulation and cardiovascular health all affect the brain. As we age, our cognitive functioning naturally declines, but with the proper dosage of vitamins and minerals, we can increase the vitality and elasticity of our brains and the strength of our hearts pumping blood to them. Simply add these ten foods to your daily diet to help promote better brain health.
1. Dark Chocolate
We all know that chocolate tastes good, but did you know that it can also be good for your brain as well? Chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa is packed with nutrients. Dark chocolate contains essential minerals, such as iron and magnesium. But what makes dark chocolate a brain superfood? It may be the powerful antioxidant, flavanol, that naturally occurs in cocoa plants. One study found that the consumption of cocoa flavanol improved cognitive functioning of elderly individuals suffering from minor brain impairment.
Fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with a decreased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as well as being linked to the prevention of memory loss due to aging. Salmon is especially high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main structural fatty acid in the brain. DHA is vitally important for your brain cells, and eating salmon may promote their protection and growth.
Blueberries are jam-packed with vitamin C, B6 and K. They also contain vitamins A and E, calcium, and important minerals such as zinc and copper. Studies have suggested that regularly eating blueberries may slow mental decline and lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Blueberries may also improve memory and general cognitive functioning.
Peanuts, full of calories and good fats, are an incredible source of resveratrol, an antioxidant linked with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Peanuts also contain a hefty amount of protein, with plenty of essential acids necessary for healthy brain growth. As if this wasn’t enough already, they’re also packed with B vitamins and folates, which are crucial for cell repair.
Avocados are low in sugar, high in potassium and fiber, and teeming with vitamins and minerals. Specifically, avocados contain a large proportion of vitamin E and C. This coupling of vitamins has been associated with the prevention of memory loss. In fact, given in remedial doses, vitamins E and C have proven to assist in fighting dementia.
Beans’ high fiber content make them a heart-friendly treat. They have also been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Beans are comprised of great amounts of protein, vitamins and folates, all of which support a healthy body and mind. They’re also a wonderful source of iron, which your body needs in order to maintain a healthy red blood cell count, a nutrient many Americans are sorely missing.
We’ve all been urged to finish our broccoli at one time or another – and it turns out – you should finish it! Neurons, or brain cells, need vitamin K, and broccoli is chock-full of it. It’s also proven to act as an anti-inflammatory, and it may even reverse damage to your blood vessels. The choline, an essential nutrient in broccoli, in addition to reducing inflammation, supports brain elasticity.
Celery with peanut butter is an amazing taste combination, universally loved by people of all ages. As it turns out, this popular combo also promotes brain health. Celery contains luteolin, a flavonoid that reduces brain inflammation and may protect your brain against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s. Celery also provides a sizable amount of your daily fiber needs, as well as some vitamin A, C and K.
Turmeric, the most prominent spice in curry, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, has been long associated with warding off diseases. In a recent scientific study, mice consuming curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, demonstrated a correlation with a lesser chance of developing Alzheimer’s. Research has also pointed to curcumin contributing to better moods and cognitive functioning in older adults.
10. Whole grains
Whole grains, such as quinoa and wild rice, provide your body with protein, fiber, B vitamins and even trace minerals and antioxidants. Whole grains are good for your heart because of all the nutrients they provide. These nutrients have been proven to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Your brain is dependent on blood flow, as is every organ in your body. A healthy heart means healthy blood flow, which also means a healthy brain.