What a person eats on a regular basis can have a serious effect on the structure and health of their brain. Eating foods that can give the brain a bit of a boost can support both long-term and short-term brain function! We know that omega-3 fatty acids are helpful in building and repairing brain cells, so it’s crucial to eat foods rich in omega-3. So, let’s take a look at some amazing foods that can possibly maintain the brain’s health and improve one’s cognitive abilities.
Dark chocolate has cocoa in it (obviously), also known as cacao. Well, cocoa contains flavonoids which are a type of antioxidant. You might not know this, but antioxidants are very important for brain health. The reason for this is that the brain is very susceptible to oxidative stress which contributes to age-related cognitive decline as well as various brain diseases. A few studies have suggested that cacao flavonoids are good for the brain and might stimulate blood flow in the brain. In fact, a study done has shown that eating dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa can help brain plasticity which is crucial for learning.
Another way to benefit from the positive effects of vitamin E is by eating whole grains. They happen to be a great source of the vitamin. It turns out that a 2014 study discovered that vitamin E might contribute to better cognition and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Whole-grain foods are ones like brown rice, barley, bulgur wheat, oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and whole-grain pasta to really reap these benefits.
Oily fish are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 helps build membranes around every single cell in the body – including the brain, of course. So, this component can improve the structure of the brain cells called neurons. One study found that people who had high levels of omega-3 had increased blood flow to the brain. Additionally, researchers discovered a connection between omega-3 levels and thinking abilities. This means that eating foods rich in omega-3 can possibly boost brain function.
Who doesn’t know about coffee? It’s famous! While most people drink it to help stay awake, the caffeine in coffee can be good for more than just that. In fact, one study suggests that caffeine can possibly increase the brain’s capacity for processing information. Researchers found that caffeine caused an increase in brain entropy, which is a complex brain activity. When entropy is high, the brain is able to process more information. On top of all that, coffee is another source of antioxidants that can support brain health as a person ages.
Avocados are a great source of unsaturated fat which might support the brain. Eating monounsaturated fats can help reduce blood pressure, and high blood pressure is typically linked with cognitive decline. So, by lowering the blood pressure, the unsaturated fats in avocados might lower the risk of cognitive decline as well. Avocado isn’t the only food to contain these unsaturated fats. Other foods that have it are almonds, cashews, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
Peanuts are a legume with some great nutritional benefits. They have plenty of unsaturated fats and protein that help keep a person’s energy levels up throughout the day. Peanuts also have key vitamins and minerals that keep the brain healthy, including vitamin E and resveratrol. Resveratrol is a natural non-flavonoid antioxidant found in peanuts, mulberries, and rhubarb. It’s been suggested that this nutrient can have protective effects like helping prevent cancers, inflammation, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Eggs tend to have a bad reputation that they don’t deserve. Recently, however, people have started appreciating eggs for what they are – a great superfood. Eggs are a fantastic source of B vitamins like vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folic acid. Not to mention, they contain omega-3 and lots of protein as well, making them a must-have for just about everyone. Recent research has suggested that the vitamins that eggs contain can prevent brain shrinkage, leading to delayed cognitive decline.
In addition to being a low-calorie source of fiber, broccoli has so much to offer – even for brain health. Broccoli is rich in compounds called glucosinolates. When the body breaks these compounds down, they produce isothiocyanates. And isothiocyanates can possibly help reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. On top of that, broccoli also contains vitamin C and flavonoids, which can boost a person’s brain health even more.
Like dark chocolate, a lot of different berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Antioxidants are excellent since they help reduce inflammation as well as oxidative stress in the body. Some antioxidants berries typically have are anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin. It’s been noted that the antioxidant compounds found in berries can have a lot of different positive effects on the brain, like improving communication between brain cells, reducing or delaying age-related brain diseases, and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Nuts and Seeds
Eating more nuts and seeds can be good for the brain since they contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants. A study has found that overall, a higher intake of nuts was linked to better brain function in older age. Additionally, nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress that can be caused by free radicals. As a person gets old, the brain can be exposed to oxidative stress, and vitamin E can support brain health in older age as a result.