top 9 foods to keep your brain healthy
The food that we consume can have a significant effect our brain’s functions. As the below informative yet rather entertaining presentation, by the American doctor Drew Ramsey, explains – it is essential to provide our body with a number of certain nutrients in order to avoid deficiencies and thus health conditions such as depression, lack of energy, anxiety, mood swings and sleeping problems. Making good dietary choices is one of the most important steps towards achieving a better mental health and overall well-being.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
Here are the top 9 foods for better congnitive and mental health
Animal study researchers have found that blueberries can help to protect the brain from oxidative stress, as well as to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Studies have also shown that these delicious fruits could help improve learning capacity and reverse short-term memory loss . Visit the local fruit markets or farms and stock up with fresh blueberries, which can also be stored in the freezer in larger quantities to be used over time. Try to have a cup of blueberries a day.
Composed of monounsaturated fats, which contribute to healthy blood flow and thus healthier brain. Avocados are also good for lowering blood pressure, which should promote better brain health according to Ann Kulze, MD, author of “Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet”. So why not add 1/4 to 1/2 of avocado to your daily meal?
3. Nuts and Seeds
These are a great source of vitamin E. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that good intake of this vitamin can help in the prevention of cognitive decline particularly in the elderly. Sources include walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed as well as nut butters such as peanut and almond butter. Try adding a 25-30 grams serving a day to your diet.
4. Whole Grains
Some examples include oatmeal, wholegrain bread, brown rice and pasta. Whole grains promote better cardiovascular health and therefore improved blood flow to the organ system including the brain.
A study suggests that low levels of the carotenoid called lycopene (which also acts as an antioxidant) are related to impaired cognitive function in the elderly. These findings along with other research are a good indication that lycopene which is found in tomatoes is beneficial for your brain. You need to cook the tomatoes in order to obtain it, so a freshly made tomato sauce would do the job perfectly. Tomato ketchup can be a tempting option, but this also contains sugar, so try to go for a good quality pure tomato sauce instead.
6. Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba
Both of these derive from traditional Chinese medicine. Similarly to lycopene in tomatoes, it has been found that ginseng acts to improve memory and learning ability. Another study has also demonstrated that combined ginseng and Ginkgo biloba extract protect the brain from oxidative damage. You can take these either as herbal teas or in the form of capsules.
If you watched the video above you’ll probably see that Dr Drew Ramsey is rather keen on this green/purple vegetable called Kale. And for a good reason. As explained here kale, as well as broccoli, contain sulforaphane which acts as an antioxidant and has a number of brain protective effects. The omega-3 fat Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and folates are also found in kale, all of which, according to Dr Ramsey, act to promote better brain health.
These highly nutritious berries have been recognised by some researchers as the number one ‘superfruit’! Blackcurrants are a great source of the antioxidant flavonoids – anthocyanins, which give them their deep purple colour. The darker the purple the better for you. According to a New Zealand study such compounds have the potential of blocking cell damage in the brain which causes Alzheimer’s disease and could also prevent dementia. So stock up on fresh blackcurrants (they are in season in August – you can freeze large batches to last a couple of months), or try a 100% Blackcurrant juice (usually in concentrated form and requires dilution with water) and enjoy the wonderful taste and benefits of this fruit.
Another great brain function booster. Research has shown that sage can be beneficial for improving memory. Try to go for the fresh form over the dried herb for better flavor. In any case this can be a great addition to your daily meals – simply sprinkle some over your soups or stews and enjoy!
Other foods that contribute towards better cognitive health include oily fish such as salmon, turmeric and dark chocolate.
~Try including these great foods into your daily diet for a happy brain!~
1. SuperFoodsRx – 14 Foods That Will Change Your Lifeby Steven Pratt.
2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl.
3. Effects of panaxadiol saponins and lycopene on abilities of learning and memory of senile mice with atlanto-axial joint instability. FAN Wenjing,ZHU Tongtong,GUO Yaxiong,et al.; 2009
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