20 Best Foods for Brain

Use brain boosting foods and improve your cognitive health

Significance of Foods for Brain

People pay considerable attention and spend a lot of money on food supplements, pharmaceutical drugs and exotic superfoods. But it turns out that real superfoods are within reach of masses with adequate affordability. Phytonutrients like antioxidants, polyphenols and minerals etc. in fruits and vegetables keep brain healthy. Their long-terms usage not only prevents Alzheimer’s disease but also improves cognitive abilities like learning, memory and focus [1].

Dementia is now global issue and currently 47 million people are suffering from this. In 2030, the number of dementia-stricken people will rise to 73 million. Moreover, Alzheimer’s comes at second place after cancer and if you are above 40, then according to recent research, the pathways responsible for causing Alzheimer’s start 30 years before actual onset of disease. Fortunately, people can add life to their years by focusing simply on diet and lifestyle to keep their brains healthy [2,3]. This all start with consuming super foods for brain health which exhibit brain-boosting effects. Some of these may even cause reversal of Alzheimer’s and mental function decline. Therefore, add these super foods to your diet ——in other words, Bon appétit!

Eat the best brain foods to Improve cognitive health
Eat well best brain foods to improve brain health.
Source: Pixabay (No attribution required)

Best super foods having love for our brains are given below:

1) Coffee

Coffee is, for instance, famous because of its brain-boosting antioxidants (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, quinides, trigonelline, and ferulic acid) said by Dr. Gary Wenk at Ohio State University. As vasodilator, coffee causes expansion of vessels and increases blood flow to our brains and significantly lowers the risk of dementia. Hence, coffee consumption also imparts good effect on our brain reaction times, memory, vigilance and cognitive function. Avoid addiction and drink coffee in moderation [2].

2) Turmeric

Turmeric is popular in India and Pakistan and dates back to 5,000 years. Population of subcontinent has the lowest number of Alzheimer’s disease. This plant has a unique organ-colored ingredient which is curcumin and it is enjoying reputation as miraculous compound. Our brain loves this food because it increases blood flow to brain and helps to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms and even dementia. You can get better curcumin absorption in bodies by using turmeric in combination with black pepper and healthy fats. Food Revolution Network suggests curcuminoid micelle produced by PuraTHRIVE as one of among the best foods for brain.

3) Blueberries

If we search literature, there are plenty of available reports which highlight the important of anthocyanins from berries in brain function improvement. Moreover, a study in journal titled “Annals of Neurology” suggests that blueberry consumption caused delay in cognitive aging in women over 74 year of average age. In addition, blue berries are recognized as topper among dementia-fighting champiouns. Enjoy fresh berries or in frozen or dried form during out of season phase [3].

4) Omega-3 fatty acids

Among super foods for brain, Omega-3 fats (ALA, EPA and DHA) enjoy reputation as the most significant structural component of cerebral cortex in our brain. Furthermore, cerebral cortex plays crucial role in cognition development including creativity, emotions, memory, language and attention. Above all, 97% of Omega-3 fatty acids in body form structural components of brain and lower risk of developing brain lesions and dementia. Similarly, foods rich in Omega-3 fats include chia and flax seeds and walnuts. Moreover, salmon, anchovies, herring, and sardines, and some algae also provide EPA and DHA. However, watch out for mercury and heavy metal contamination from fish consumption [4].

Walnut is one of the best brain foods which provides omega-3 fatty acids
Walnut is one of best brain foods.
Source: Pixabay (Pixabay License)

5) Green leafy vegetables

Brain loves the greens and hence, especially cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and collards benefit the brain health as endorsed by the study of Chicago-based researchers of Rush University. Moreover, a halting period of almost 11 years has been found in people eating greens [5].  

Greens are rich in powerful antioxidants as best brain foods to improve cognitive skills
Cruciferous vegetables improve memory, attention and prevent neural diseases.
Source: Pixabay (Pixabay License: No attribution required)

6) Tea

First reported use of tea dates back to 2737 BC by Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. Above all, tea is the second most widely consumed beverage after water. Furthermore, white and green teas involve least processing, have the highest amounts of beneficial antioxidants, and if consumed in moderation, these enhance the memory function of brain. In conclusion, grapes enhanced brain function and cause delays in onset of neural degeneration.

7) Red grapes

Red grapes comprise of most-highlighted anti-aging compound called resveratrol. According to report of British journal of Nutrition, consumption of resveratrol reduces amyloidal-beta peptides levels, and hence is necessary for preventing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia [2].

8) Legumes

Legumes are part of Mediterranean and Japanese diets which are responsible for healthy aging. In addition, Mediterranean and Japanese people have the longest life expectancy. Legumes enhance brain function by providing choline which elevates acetyl choline which is critically important for brain health. Moreover, beans and pulses contain neuron-stimulating minerals like folate, iron, magnesium and hence prevent onset of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline [1,2].

9) Red wine

As part of Mediterranean diet, red wine is staple for the Mediterranean people who are included in Blue zones of the world and showed least cognitive decline. Of course, the credit goes to resveratrol in red wine which has neuro-protective effect along with other potent anti-aging antioxidant compounds [2].

10) Extra-virgin olive oil

It is is also an essential ingredient of Mediterranean diet and according to famous book “Brain Food” by Lisa Mosconi, phenolic compounds of olive oil protects the vitamin E which is also powerful antioxidant and decreases brain decline. 1 quart a week of extra virgin olive oil has beneficial effect regarding protection from cognitive decline [2].  

11) Low sugar diet

High sugar consumption may cause inflammatory damage to brain and hence reduced cognitive function especially memory and attention. In addition, negative impact of sugar can be reversed by using low-sugar diets, supplementation of omega-3 fats and being moderate in sugar consumption. However, don’t fall a prey to sugar addiction. Furthermore, a study in journal Scientific Reports also confirmed this and Joel Fuhrman also explained it nicely to have wellness of brain. In conclusion, incorporate natural sweetener, for instance, Stevia as zero-calorie as alternaaate of sucrose [6].

12) Gingko

In traditional Chinese medicine, Gingko has been described as tonic for brain and its usage to treat mental decline has been documented since ancient times. Some studies have shown that Gingko extract consumption (240 mg/day) may exert beneficial effect on overall cognitive function, attention and memory [2].

13) Indian curries

Similarly, Indian curries may reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s and spices in Indian curry are especially helpful in improving brain function and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

14) Ginseng

Above all, Ginseng is popular in China and South Korea and Chinese claim it as fountain of youth. According to Brain Food Book, Panax ginseng may enhance the cognitive function even in Alzheimer’s patients [1,2].

15) Phyto-diet

Plants are rich antioxidant-rich foods and hence increase the consumption of plant-derived antioxidants. Glutathione is called the master antioxidant which can reverse aging and also prevents cognitive decline. Sulphur rich foods, such as garlic, asparagus, avocado and cauliflower play vial role in increasing body’s glutathione levels [1].

Brain loves antioxidants as best brain foods and high antioxidants potential prevents cognitive decline
Antioxidants from plants reverse aging and prevent cognitive decline
Source: Pixabay (Pixabay License: No attribution required)

16) Ketogenic diet

Caloric restriction in Keto diet improves the functionality of brain’s antioxidant defense mechanism. Keto diet reduces the memory decline and prevents plaque formation and hence keeps the neural circuitry in optimized condition which in turn prevents cognitive decline. Fasting is also linked to improved brain function [2].

17) Cocoa beans

Love for chocolate is global. Cacao beans comes from cacao tree which consist of power antioxidant such as theobromine. Consumption of cocoa drinks may increase body’s flavonoids content and hence improves memory and cognition.

18) Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which have several health benefits. In addition, PUFA along with vitamin E improves memory and cognition and have brain-boosting properties [1,2].

19) Fish

Fish have Omega-3 fatty acids which has significant impact on brain development. Hence, low mercury and heavy metals containing fish like sardines, herring and salmon must be included in dietary plan. In addition, use Fish oil supplements as well [2,4].

20) Animal fats

Foods of animal origin like margarine, butter, sausages and fried bacon produce harmful products similar to free radicals called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Moreover, several reports have reported on role of AGEs inflammation and their adverse effect on aging and brain function. Therefore, avoid cognitive decline by using recommendations to decrease AGEs during cooking like steaming and low-temperature cooking [1,2].

Bottomline

In conclusion, slow down the cognitive decline and prevent onset of neuro-degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia by improving lifestyle and diet. Increase the intake of brain-boosting foods which are good for brain health and be moderate in consumption of sugar and animal-products.

References

[1] Proestos, C. (2018). Superfoods: Recent data on their role in the prevention of diseases. Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science Journal, 6(3), 576-593.

[2] Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power. Lisa Mosconi. (2018). Penguin Random House

[3] Devore, E. E., Kang, J. H., Breteler, M. M., & Grodstein, F. (2012). Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of Neurology72(1), 135-143.

[4] Brain Food: 8 Superfoods Your Brain Will Love.  https://www.thesacredpantry.com/uploads/1/1/6/7/116783321/special-report-brain-superfoods.pdf

[5] Morris, M. C., Wang, Y., Barnes, L. L., Bennett, D. A., Dawson-Hughes, B., & Booth, S. L. (2018). Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study. Neurology90(3), e214-e222. [6] Knüppel, A., Shipley, M. J., Llewellyn, C. H., & Brunner, E. J. (2017). Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study. Scientific reports7(1), 6287.

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About the Author: The Food For

My name is Dr. Kashif Ameer. As admin of The Food For Blog, I love to write on the health benefits of natural foods. I completed my doctoral program in Food Science and Biotechnology back in 2018. My research work involved in developing innovative and functional foods, food safety, food processing, nutritional improvement of food products, extraction of phytochemicals from plants matrices and detection of irradiated foods. I have rich experience in scholarly publishing and serving as an associate editor for the Journal of Ginseng Research.

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