7 Smartest Brain Foods

Yes, you can upgrade your brain!

Oct 15, 2020

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Everyone needs a brain boost. You can exercise your brain by solving a Rubik’s Cube, but did you know you can feed your brain? There are foods that help improve memory, decrease the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and increase concentration. Here are seven foods that are delicious, nutritious, and brainy!

Berries

Berries are bright and deeply colored red, blue, and purple. This is because they are loaded with anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, according to Very Well Health. These strong antioxidants fight free radicals and have anti-inflammatory properties.

The antioxidants also help fight inflammation that could produce aging in the brain, as well as neurodegenerative disease, as written on Healthline. A study on older adults shows that drinking wild blueberry juice helps improve memory.

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Turmeric

Although, according to BrainMD, 75 percent of older Americans suffer from memory issues, neurodegeneration may be prevented. Time for turmeric! Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It assists with memory, is calming, and increases the brain hormone called BDNF which protects neurons.

Turmeric crosses the blood-brain barrier, entering and nourishing brain cells, as reported on Healthline. One study on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) shows that it improves cognitive function in patients with AD. Make yourself turmeric tea or golden milk to enjoy these brain benefits.

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Fish

Sardines, trout, salmon, mackerel, tuna, and herring –  fatty fish – are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are essential for brain health, as written on Healthline, building nerve and brain cells, as well as fats needed for learning and memory.

People who eat broiled or baked fish regularly have more gray matter on their brain, as shown in this study. The gray matter is the nerve cells that direct memory, emotion, and decision making. In addition, high levels of omega-3 also increases blood flow to the brain, leading to increased mental function, as seen in this study.

Cruciferous veggies

Pass the greens! Cruciferous vegetables are brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, cress, and broccoli. They contain glucosinolates, which are a type of antioxidant that can lower the risk of neurodegenerative disease, as reported by Medical News Today.

Aside from containing brain-healthy antioxidants, these vegetables have vitamin c and flavonoids, all of which are good for the brain.

The vitamin K found in broccoli is especially important for the brain, according to Healthline, as it assists brain cells and can improve memory, even protecting it against brain damage.

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Coffee

If you love coffee and thought it was unhealthy, grab a mug! The caffeine and antioxidants found in coffee help with concentration and alertness, according to Healthline. And they also boost serotonin, helping you feel good.

Coffee can also reduce one’s risk for neurological diseases. A study about the effects of coffee concludes that there is a connection between those who drink coffee over a lifetime and the prevention of cognitive decline, as well a reduction in the risk of stroke, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease.

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Dark chocolate and cocoa

Here is another brain food everyone loves. Both dark chocolate and cocoa have antioxidants, caffeine, and flavonoids, as written on Healthline. A study shows that flavonoids can help slow mental decline and improve memory.

Antioxidants are important in combating oxidative stress, to which the brain is highly susceptible, according to Medical News Today. As for the flavonoids in cocoa, they stimulate the growth of neurons and blood vessels in areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Brain plasticity, which is so important for learning, is improved by eating dark chocolate. One study concludes that eating 70 percent  organic cacao beans enhances neuroplasticity and is beneficial for mood, behavior and brain. Go ahead and indulge!

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Pumpkin seeds

With Hallowe’en around the corner, now is the time to roast the seeds and nourish your brain! Pumpkin seeds are rich in micronutrients such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper, according to Healthline. Zinc is important when it comes to nerve signaling, while a deficiency in zinc has been connected to neurodegenerative diseases.

As for iron, this study shows how iron reduces brain fog and assists brain function. Magnesium helps with learning and memory, while copper is responsible for nerve signals. 

Pumpkins seeds, as well as tree nuts and seeds in general, are also antioxidants that, like dark chocolate, protect the brain from free radical damage.

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NICOLE NATHAN BEM, CONTRIBUTOR
Nicole is an editor, blogger and author who has recently left her urban life in order to be more connected with nature. In her spare time, she’s outdoors hiking in the forest, mountain biking or tending to her new permaculture garden.