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Natural Foods That Boost Brain Power

Updated on September 4, 2018

Foods That Enhance Healthy Brain Function

Just some of the good foods for our cognitive performance.
Just some of the good foods for our cognitive performance. | Source

What Foods Help Our Brains?

As medical research expands into nutrition and preventive medicine, there is recent information about what we can eat to be at our best mental functioning.


Brain Foods Should Do This

Our cognitive function improves from anything that can:

  • Increase blood flow in the brain
  • Increase oxygen in the brain
  • Inhibit enzymes that break down neurotransmitters
  • Boost acetylcholine levels (the neurotransmitter for higher cognitive function)

All the great foods that contribute to better circulation - frequently connected to better cardiovascular health - will also help the brain. More blood flow to the brain brings more oxygen. More oxygen in the brain may mean increased attention and better processing of sensory input.

Specific Elements We Want In Brain Boosting Food

The following natural chemicals help by preventing harm or by boosting a brain function.

  • Alpha lipoic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) = reduce inflammation
  • Resveratrol = reduce inflammation
  • Caffeine = helps mental function
  • Choline = building block for neurotransmitter acetylcholine
  • Flavonoids = improve ability to learn
  • Lutein = antioxidant
  • Omega-3 fatty acids = reduce inflammation
  • B vitamins = produce neurotransmitters, protect nerves
  • Folate (Vitamin B9) = helps normal brain & nerve function
  • Vitamin E = antioxidant
  • Vitamin K = improve memory
  • Caratenoids = antioxidant
  • Cocoa flavanols = antioxidant

Antioxidants Explained Simply

They are any chemicals that inhibit the “free radicals” (think “germ fighters gone rogue”) in our bodies from damaging our own cells. They can be enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins, or minerals.

The Foods And What They Contain

Walnuts

Alpha lipoic acid -> Improves cognitive test results, improves memory. Lowers blood pressure, helps arteries.

Red Wine, Blueberries, Red and Black Grapes, Peanuts

Resveratrol -> Reduces inflammation.

Coffee, Tea

Caffeine -> Improves mental function. May solidify new memories.

Eggs

Choline -> This is a building block for neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps concentration and information recall. May improve verbal fluency and frontal lobe functioning for perceptual motor speed, visual searching and sequencing, and ability to make alternating conceptual shifts.

Blueberries, Strawberries

Flavonoids -> Improves memory and ability to learn. Enhances motor skills.

Eggs, Green Leafy Vegetables

Lutein -> Antioxidant.

Mackerel, Herring, Salmon, Cod, Pollack, Walnuts, Flax Seeds, Avocado, Algae

Omega-3 fatty acids -> Reduces inflammation. Lowers blood levels of beta-amyloid which can form damaging clumps.

Kale, Spinach, Chard

B vitamins -> Helps produce neurotransmitters, protects nerves.

Spinach, Beans, Lentils, Dark Green Vegetables

Folate (Vitamin B9) -> May slow memory decline.

Soy, Spinach, Nuts, Olive Oil, Avocado, Wheat Germ

Vitamin E -> Antioxidant.

Brocolli, Spinach, Lettuce, Green Leafy Vegetables

Vitamin K -> Improves verbal episodic memory.

Salmon, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Tomatoes, Mangoes, Oranges

Caratenoids -> Antioxidant.

Dark Chocolate, Cocoa

Cocoa flavanols -> Improves spatial memory, increases cerebral blood flow.

Where's The Turmeric?

Some of you may be wondering why turmeric (also called curcumin) is not mentioned. The research I found seems to link it primarily to reducing the problems of the aging brain and aging body. It is a fabulous food to have in your diet, to get in the habit now, so to speak.

The "Two-Fers" List

These super-foods were mentioned 2 (or more) times in the list of natural brain boosting foods.

  • Walnuts
  • Blueberries
  • Eggs
  • Green leafy veggies
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Avocado

Conclusions About Brain Boosting Foods

Most of the foods on these lists are easily obtainable in food markets. Also, many of them are on restaurant menus.

Working more salmon, blueberries, spinach and eggs into your weekly intake is an investment in yourself.

© 2018 Maren Elizabeth Morgan

Comments

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    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very useful list of healthy foods. Thanks for creating it, Maren.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      14 months ago from Norfolk, England

      There are so many super foods out there which are good for the brain. I like most of the foods you mentioned.

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