It’s no secret that a healthy diet is the key to a fit body, but it’s surprising researchers to learn just how much the brain can benefit from the food we put in our bodies. In fact, this amazing organ that makes up only two percent of our body weight, but uses more than 20 percent of its energy may be suffering the consequences of modern diets that are high in processed foods and low in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Before reaching for a supplement that promises to improve memory and concentration, why not consider adding foods to your diet for a natural boost? Make these six delicious choices a part of your meal plan starting today.
If it’s been a while since you’ve visited the fresh fish counter, now’s the time. Just two servings per week of fatty fish like salmon may reduce your risk of neurological disease. What salmon does that even fruits and vegetables can’t is provide large amounts of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is an essential fatty acid that fortifies cell membranes, protecting fragile neurons from injury, reducing brain inflammation and helping the chemical neurotransmitters responsible for concentration and memory work more effectively.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are brimming with vitamin E, an essential micronutrient that studies suggest can stem the tide of cognitive decline as we age. One ounce daily of nuts or seeds including walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds or their butters is all you need.
Blueberries are a superfood for your heart, so why not your head? Packed with stress-fighting antioxidants, they’re a top choice of nutritionists to combat inflammation that contributes to heart disease. Researchers are now focusing on animal studies that show the antioxidants in blueberries can slow the loss of memory and focus associated with dementia. Mix half a cup into your morning cereal in day or make a delectable smoothie.
Bring on the guacamole! Avocados are proving to be almost as effective as blueberries in promoting optimal brain health. Dieters who have long avoided these fatty fruits to keep calories in check can relax knowing that the healthy monounsaturated fat they provide are the key to keeping arteries flexible, decreasing blood pressure and promoting healthy cerebral blood flow. If you’re watching your weight, as little as half an avocado is plenty. If it’s not your favorite taste, consider making salad dressings with avocado oil. It has a mild flavor and carries most of the same benefits.
Beans are humble, but boast an array of essential micronutrients and a high fiber content which helps control blood sugar. If you’ve ever had a burst of energy followed by a crash after turning to sweets for a mid-afternoon boost, you’ve experienced first-hand the effects of unregulated blood sugar. The two types of fiber in beans keep blood glucose on an even keel, and since glucose is your brain’s primary energy source, it helps maintain a steady dose of fuel.
Dark chocolate is lauded for many health benefits including its antioxidant properties that decrease inflammation and improve cerebral blood flow. It also contains natural stimulants including caffeine that can enhance focus and concentration. Like most foods or drink with caffeine however, more isn’t always better. A half-ounce of natural, high-quality dark chocolate provides the ideal benefits.
What are you waiting for? Take yourself to the gym, but your brain to the kitchen and treat yourself to a variety of foods that can give you a safe, natural cognitive boost.