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4 superfoods for boosting brain function

by Tina Sendin November 06, 2019

4 superfoods for boosting brain function

There’s been a lot of talks and articles about keeping a healthy and fit body. But what about keeping a healthy brain?

It’s a known fact – having a well-balanced diet brings a lot of benefits. Boosting brain function is one of the merits we can get from eating the right foods. Having the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients not just keep us mentally sharp, they could also help delay cognitive decline.

So what are the foods that can help us achieve the fountain of youth, brain-wise? 

Here are the 4 main categories that you should remember:

 

Green, leafy vegetables 

Leafy greens contain nutrients that can keep your brain healthy and slow down cognitive decline. These nutrients include vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene.

Vegetables like broccoli contain high levels of glucosinolates, known to produce isothiocyanates, which combat oxidative stress and make you less susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases. [1]

Broccolis are also rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, which both enhance brain health.

Other veggies with similar benefits include the following:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Sage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnips

 

Oily, fatty fish 

Oily, fatty fish is the top-of-mind for brain foods as they are known to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and healthy, unsaturated fats.

Omega-3’s plays a major role in enhancing brain functions. Fat comprises almost 60 percent of our brain, and half of this is omega-3, which the brain uses for building cells used for cognitive functions like learning and memory. [2, 3, 4]

According to a 2017 study, those found with high levels of omega-3 are seen to have increased blood flow in the brain. The same study established the link between this and better cognitive function, which means sharper thinking. [5

Other benefits of omega-3 also include slowing down the decline of mental abilities and helps you steer clear of Alzheimer’s disease. [6, 7, 8, 9]

Sources of oily fish include the following: [10, 11, 12]

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • tuna
  • herring
  • sardines
  • trout
  • mackerel
  • herring
  • pilchards
  • kippers

 

Nuts and seeds 

Nuts and seeds are also great sources of omega-3. [10

According to a 2014 study, participants with higher consumption of nuts experienced better mental performance as they got older. [13]

Another study in 2015 showed that a higher intake of walnuts improved cognitive test scores. Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid that can lead to lower blood pressure and protect the arteries. [14

Aside from omega-3, nuts and seeds are also rich in vitamin E, which protects brain cells from free radicals and the oxidative stress they bring. As we grow older, the more susceptible we get with this oxidative stress, which may cause us to have poorer cognitive functions. With higher levels of vitamin E from nuts and seed, we are less likely to develop slower cognitive decline as we age. [15

Brain foods in this form may include:

  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Filberts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Tahini 

 

Berries 

Berries contain flavonoids, which are what give berries their natural color. At the same time, flavonoids are considered antioxidants that also help improve memory, reduce inflammation and fight off oxidative stress.

Aside from flavonoids, berries contain other antioxidants such as anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin. [16

Various researches and studies have shown that this is the case: 

  • A 2012 study showed that “women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years.” [14]
  • Likewise, animal studies showed that blueberries shield the brain from oxidative stress and therefore slow down – even ward off – Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Other studies also found that berry-rich diets marked massive improvements in the “learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats” with similar mental capacity as younger rats. [15]
  • A 2014 review found berries’ many positive effects on the brain, such as [10, 16]
    • improving communication between brain cells
    • reducing inflammation throughout the body
    • increasing plasticity, which helps brain cells form new connections, boosting learning and memory
    • reducing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline

Brain-food berries include the following:

  • strawberries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • blackcurrants
  • mulberries

  

Nootropic Supplements

You can always start incorporating these superfoods into your regular diet to boost your brain function and slow down the decline of brain-related functions.

But if you feel like you find an unbalanced diet at this point and still need a few more reinforcements, then you can always consider nootropic supplements. It’s best to consider multivitamins or those with ample amounts of omega-3 fatty acid. 

When looking for a great nootropic supplement, go for the one that:

  • supports memory, focus, and clarity
  • gives you fast-acting and long-lasting cognitive enhancement
  • increases your natural energy
  • promotes positive mood
  • helps you think fast on your feet
  • supports blood circulation in the brain and nervous system
  • increases oxygen delivery to neurons and brain cells for increased memory and sharp mental cognition

  

Sources

[1] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods#section5

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26795198

[3] https://nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3/introduction.htm

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26809263

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28527220

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16216930

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19523795

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27825512

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27633106

[10] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044.php

[11] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods#section1

[12] https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-foods-boost-your-brainpower

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105147/

[14] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower

[15] https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain#1

[16] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods#section3

 


 




Tina Sendin
Tina Sendin

Author




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