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10 Foods that Help Boost Brain Power

Updated on November 3, 2013
Boost your brain power!
Boost your brain power! | Source

Diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, or any cardiovascular diseases can be prevented with the right diet. Similarly, the body also needs the right food to keep the brain active and healthy.

Presently, there is no treatment that has yet to prove the cure for cognitive illnesses, such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. However, there are foods that can help improve the general well-being of the brain. Referred as "brain-healthy diet", it helps encourage steady flow of blood to the brain and lower the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Here are ten different foods that help boost brain power and keep the mind active and alert.

1. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, salmon, halibut, and anchovies, are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in keeping our brain healthy. Other omega-3 fats, including DHA and EPA, also help our hearts and joints as well as our general well-being strong and healthy. High level of DHA in the body develops memory and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

In a 2006 study conducted at Tufts University, research found out that people who consume fish thrice a week reduced the risk of Alzheimer's disease by almost 40%.

Other researches also revealed that salmon is one of the leading sources of Vitamin D, an important nutrient to avoid cognitive and memory-related diseases.

Colorful and citrus fruits
Colorful and citrus fruits | Source

2. Colorful Fruits

Colorful fruits, such as watermelon, tomatoes, plums, pineapples, oranges, apples, grapes, kiwifruits, peaches, and avocados, are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants that help prevent the development of cognitive diseases. Berries, like blueberries, blackberries, and cherries, are also rich in antioxidants that help protect the brain and build communication between the brain cells.

As the old adage says, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Another reason why eating apples is important -- apples protect the brain cells and keep the creative juices flowing. Apples are also rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that defends the brain cells from attacks of free radicals. When eating apple, make sure that you also eat it with its skin, where most of the quercetin is found.

Similarly, studies also revealed that tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that help fight free radicals and prevent the occurrence of dementia, specifically Alzheimer's disease.

3. Green Leafy Vegetables

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School in more than 13,000 women revealed that those who ate most cruciferous vegetables have lower brain age by 1 to 2 years.

Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, kale, chard, and other dark, green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin B, including folic acid, which help protect the brain from the ill effects of aging. They are also found to have high content of antioxidants like Vitamin C, which help prevent brain damage due to free radicals.

Spinach also contains high level of folate, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E. These nutrients are essential in preventing dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and memory loss.

Broccoli is also a good source of Vitamin K, which improves brain power and develops cognitive function.

Add a mix of well-rounded and colorful vegetables on your daily serving of salad, stir fry, and side dishes to defuse and disarm the free radicals that destroy the brain.

Whole grains help maintain sugar level in the body
Whole grains help maintain sugar level in the body | Source

4. Whole Grains

The brain will not work properly without energy. To fuel the brain and make an individual mentally alert the whole day, the body needs to have a steady blood sugar level.

Whole grains, such as oat bran, oatmeal, and brown rice, have low glycemic index that help stabilize glucose level in the body needed to make the brain and the body work.

It is highly recommended to consume 25 grams of fiber daily from fiber-rich sources, such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, wheat bran, cereals, brown rice, and brown pasta. Some beans, fruits, and vegetables are also good sources of fiber.

5. Beans

Beans, such as garbanzo beans, soy beans, and black beans, contain high level of Vitamin B12 and folic acid. Vitamin B12 is necessary to maintain the general well-being of the nervous system. It also helps improve memory and attentiveness.

Beans are also good sources of iron. Studies show that even mild iron deficiency affects memory, learning, and attention. Restoring the iron level on the body to its normal level also restores cognitive function.

Furthermore, a cup of chickpeas contain 220 mg of magnesium, a mineral that help speed up the transmission of messages to the brain cell receptors. Likewise, magnesium also relaxes the blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow to the brain.

Nuts and seeds are important components of a healthy meal plan.
Nuts and seeds are important components of a healthy meal plan. | Source

6. Nuts and Seeds

Similar to green leafy vegetables and whole grains, nuts and seeds are great sources of Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, monounsaturated fat, protein, and fiber. Vitamin E is an essential antioxidant that help lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 67%.

Walnuts, also known as "brain food", help regulate blood sugar level, which keeps the brain alert. This nut is also rich in Omega-3, which keeps arteries clear and controls blood flow. Sprinkle a handful of walnuts on salad or munch on them as an afternoon snack.

It is also recommended to eat two ounces of almonds often or an equivalent of 15 mg Vitamin E. Likewise, eating a handful of pumpkin seeds every day provides daily zinc requirement. Zinc is necessary to enhance memory and thinking ability.

Flax seeds does not only help improve brain function and blood circulation but also reduce inflammation. Furthermore, flax seeds also help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. To obtain the essential nutrients from flax seeds, it is best to sprinkle ground flax seeds on oatmeal or use flax oil on salad dressings.

It is also suggested to add other kinds of nuts and seeds on the daily diet, including cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia, and pecans. Roasted pumpkin seeds and dry sunflower seeds are also recommended.

What kind of nut do you often add on your daily diet?

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Coffee helps reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease
Coffee helps reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease | Source

7. Water and Coffee

Every cell in the body needs water to grow and flourish, including the brain cells. As a matter of fact, the brain is composed of 75% water.

Health experts recommend drinking six to eight glasses of water every day. A study conducted in University of Ohio revealed that well-hydrated individuals performed significantly better on brain power tests than those who do not drink enough water.

Similarly, moderate amount of caffeine in the body can help improve reaction time, attention span, and other cognitive skills. Drinking a cup or two of coffee can temporarily improve brain power and alertness level.

A study conducted in 2007 found out that women 65 years and older who drank more than three cups of coffee every day were able to recall words better as compared to women who did not consume or drank very little coffee.

Another study also revealed that coffee drinkers who drink consume to four cups of coffee every day have lower risk of suffering from Alzheimer's disease by 30%.

Dark Chocolates
Dark Chocolates | Source

9. Olive Oil

In a research conducted by Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, PA, extra virgin olive oil contains high level of oleocanthal, a compound that fights and disables amyloid B-derived diffusible ligands (ADDL), a protein that attach to the brain cells during the primary stages of Alzheimer's disease. ADDL leads to inadequate communication of brains cells, eventually resulting to memory loss.

8. Dark Chocolate

It has been known that dark chocolates help lower blood pressure. But in 2009, the Journal of Nutrition discovered another amazing benefit from eating dark chocolates!

Researchers revealed that consuming one-third ounce of dark chocolates, with at least 70% cocoa, every day help protect the brain against memory loss due to aging.

Cocoa contains polyphenols, which help increase the blood flow to the brain; thus, keeping the mind active. Similarly, dark chocolates is rich in flavonoids, an antioxidant that helps boost brain power, lower blood pressure, and lower the risk of stroke.

Herbs and spices add flavor to your dishes
Herbs and spices add flavor to your dishes | Source

10. Herbs and Spices

Curry powder is a popular spice that is known to fight inflammation. It also contains curcumin, an active ingredient that helps clear away amyloid plagues, a protein in the brain that causes Alzheimer's disease. Often used in Thai and Indian cuisines, curry powder is also added in pasta dishes, salad dressings, and marinades.

Another spice used in cooking dishes is cinnamon. Researches show that cinnamon contains proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde, two compounds that help inactivate beta-amyloid plagues. which may cause the brain cells to die. A sprinkle of cinnamon on a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt willd efinitely not hurt.

Furthermore, a herb called sage has been known to help improve memory. Although most studies on sage focus on its essential oil, it is still worthy adding fresh sage to dishes to keep the brain sharp.

Other herbs that has been known to help improve memory and brain function include turmeric and rosemary. It is also recommended to take supplemental herbs, such as gingko biloba, Rhodiola rosea, Herbalgram, and Panax ginseng, to improve brain function and cognitive skills.

How to Use Herbs and Spices

Type of Food
Herbs and Spices to Use
Beef
Bay leaf, cayenne, chili, curry, dill, ginger, mustard, paprika, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme
Pork
Allspice, basil, cardamom, cloves, curry, ginger, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme
Lamb
Basil, cardamom, curry, dill, mace, marjoram, mint, oregano, paprika, rosemary, turmeric
Poultry
Allspice, anise, bay leaf, cayenne, curry, dill, ginger, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Fish
Allspice, anise, basil, bay leaf, cayenne, chive, curry, dill, fennel, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, tarragon, thyme
Fruit
Allspice, anise, cinnamon, cloves, curry, ginger, mace, mint, nutmeg, pepper
Vegetable
 
Green Beans
Dill, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano
Beets
Allspice, nutmeg
Broccoli
Mustard, nutmeg, sage
Carrots
Dill, nutmeg, parsley, rosemary, thyme
Cucumber
Basil, dill, parsley
Eggplant
Oregano, parsley
Mushrooms
Garlic, sage
Peas
Marjoram, mint
Potatoes
Chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, mace, parsley, rosemary, tarragon,
Squash
Cardamom, ginger, nutmeg
Tomato
Allspice, basil, cloves, cumin, fennel, marjoram, oregano, parsley
Rice
Chives, cumin, curry, nutmeg, parsley, saffron, turmeric

More Tips to Improve Brain Power!

It is not enough to eat the foods listed above. It is also important to avoid sugar-rich and foods that are high in carbohydrates. Likewise, one should also have the discipline to eat breakfast every day and skip the late night habits.

Researches have proved that hunger hampers concentration. Thus, it is necessary to have breakfast every day to get those neurons jumping. Whole grains, such as oatmeal and whole wheat bread are the best brain foods to start the day right. Munching on whole-wheat English muffin with a little amount of peanut butter and a glass of orange juice for breakfast will help boost brain power and concentration. This is better than starting the day on an empty stomach!

Furthermore, getting sufficient rest and sleep removes all the clutter and unnecessary thoughts on the brain. Taking a nap and achieving the sleep requirements boosts the brains and improves the memory.

There are more amazing and creative ways to boost the brain power. Activities, such as physical exercises, deep breathing, meditation, doing crossword puzzles, learning new language, writing, drawing, and painting, stimulates the brain and develops thinking ability.

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    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Shebel 3 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

      I knew some of these, especially the fatty fish one, but I didn't know herbs and spices and chocolate gave a boost. I'll have to try those. Currently, before a test (pretty much AS I'm studying), I'll have fish. I really do notice a difference. Great hub!

    • profile image

      Thirdy Lopez 3 years ago

      Great list!

      My favorite is fatty fish... It is costly but I love how it taste.

    • profile image

      Carl Valenzona 3 years ago

      I love eating fruits and vegetables! In your list I'd go for 2 and 3 Colorful fruits, such as watermelon, tomatoes, plums, pineapples, oranges, apples, grapes, kiwifruits, peaches, and avocados,

    • profile image

      Roch 3 years ago

      My top of mind answer was nuts and leafy vegetables and I was correct! :) Oh, I love dark chocolates. Great to know that it's part of the list.

    • profile image

      workingmama 3 years ago

      thanks for sharing this.. my fave is included on the lists

    • Jacobb9205 profile image

      Jacob Barnard 2 years ago from Gloucestershire

      I must have loads of brain power because I always drink water! xD

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