- Whole Grains: One of the primary fuel sources for your brain is glucose, which comes from carbohydrates, and whole grains are packed full of them. The bonus is that whole grains are high in fiber so the carbs are digested slowly over a long period of time. This means they can fuel your brain for longer, keeping you alert through the day without any energy crashes!
- Salmon: This healthy fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the brain. They work by strengthening the fatty coatings on brain cells, which increases the flow of electrical impulses or communication in the brain, improving memory, learning and mood stabilization while also protecting against cognitive decline.
- Sardines: This cold-water fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fat. Present in most fish, EPA is a building block for brain tissue and aides in the formation of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters allow brain cells to communicate, facilitating a variety of different brain functions.
- Avocados: This fruit contains another type of healthy fat, monounsaturated fatty acids, which contribute to healthy blood flow and lower blood pressure, benefitting the entire body and especially the brain.
- Flax Seeds: Along with being another great source of omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds are also full of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant which can slow the cognitive decline associated with aging. They also contain alpha-linolinec acid (ALA), which can boost functioning in the cerebral cortex, an area that processes sensory information.
- Walnuts: Rich in dietary-fiber, protein, essential fats, vitamins and antioxidants, walnuts can strengthen memory and cognitive functioning. We've already written about walnuts and the research that suggests they can protect your brain against the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease. (Read that post here.)
- Blueberries: Nicknamed "brainberries" by author Steven Pratt, MD, these little berries have been shown to pack a big punch. They contain powerful antioxidants that have the ability to protect the brain against oxidative stress, preventing cognitive decline.
- Dark Chocolate: We've saved the best for last! Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and can improve blood flow. In addition, it can stimulate the production of endorphins, thereby increasing your good mood and lowering stress.
Give your brain a boost by incorporating these 8 foods alongside other fruits, vegetables and proteins for a balanced diet. It is important to remember to eat each food in moderation, fueling your body with a diversity of nutrients for optimal wellbeing. To learn more about other methods to enhance cognitive health as we age, read The Brain Boost: A Practical Guide to Brain Health, the seventh book in Home Care Assistance's Healthy Longevity book series.
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