Nourish your noggin. Here are 10 excellent foods that enhance hormone production, brain chemistry, memory, mood, and cognition. Think of these foods as brainiac batteries. (Solutions to Sudoku not included.)
Eggs contain choline, one of the superstar brain nutrients. Choline is necessary to produce acetylcholine, which plays a critical role in memory. (Studies have linked acetylcholine deficiences to memory loss and Alzheimer’s.)
9. Smart Oils: Olive, Walnut, Avocado, Flax
A no-brainer! Er, wait…
These oils are far superior to canola, corn and soy oils, which contain Omega-6 fats rather than the brainy Omega-3’s. Dunk and drench everything (edible) in sight.
Tempeh is a smart protein that helps stabilize your blood sugar. And because it’s fermented, you get an extra health boost! Meatatarians can get a brain boost from grass-fed beef, which provides plenty of energizing and balancing B vitamins.
7. Flax Seeds
So they aren’t exactly truffles, but flax seeds are a true super food. Use them sparingly until you adjust to the taste. It’s worth it to cultivate your taste buds because flax seeds are literally made of nothing but fiber, vitamins, and Omega-3’s. (Flax seeds are a must for vegetarians!)
Beans contain B vitamins, “slow” carbohydrates, and plenty of fiber. Fiber has been shown to improve cognition. Get some in that stomach!
5. Greek Yogurt
Yogurt – the really fattening kind – contains tyrosine. Tyrosine perks you up and improves mental alertness. But avoid those sugary yogurts! Can’t find Greek yogurt? Look for “European style” yogurts (essentially the same thing).
4. Vegetable-Packed Salad
A big, flavorful salad a la Sisson’s daily salad is full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Your brain really loves antioxidants C and E, so pack that puppy with nuts, seeds, olive oil, bell peppers, broccoli and fruit, too.
3. Strawberries and Blueberries
These fruits contain antioxidants that help boost cognition, coordination, and memory. Eat some berries daily if you can! They go great with that yogurt I know you’re already eating. Right this very second. Yes?
Almonds make a perfect smart snack. Not only will the sensible mix of fiber, protein, and fat stabilize flagging blood sugar, but the vitamins and minerals in nuts (B, E, magnesium, and more) are excellent for your grey matter!
1. Oily fish
This is probably the single most important element required for optimal brain health. The brain is 60% fat, but it doesn’t like processed fats, trans fat, or Omega-6 fats. Your brain needs those Omega-3’s! Oily fish like wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, and tuna contain DHA (docosahexanoic acid), the best form of Omega-3. Increased Omega-3 intake has been linked to alleviation of a spectrum of mental health concerns, from anxiety and irritability to depression and even schizophrenia. Go fish!
From the Brain Food Pyramid: “Essentially, fats build your brain, and proteins unite it. Carbohydrates fuel your brain, and micronutrients defend it.”
Remember: the best source of carbohydrates is produce, not refined starches, sweets, and grains.
How often do you eat these smart foods?
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11 Steps to a Better Brain (New Scientist)
Brain Foods (Psychology Today)
The Human Brain: Food Pyramid (Franklin Institute)
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