The food you eat obviously has an effect on your ability to stay focused, alert and clear-sighted day to day, but how often do you think about how the quality of your diet actually supports your long-term brain health? Eating for brain heath isn’t just about achieving optimal mental performance now, it’s about making sure your mental cognition stays strong into your golden years. Add more of these super foods into your diet and start boosting up your brain power now:
One study found that the natural nitrates in beets cause increased blood flow to the brain, which in turn bring more oxygen and nutrients, which improves mental performance. It may even stave off certain forms of dementia. Other foods that contain these natural nitrites? Celery, cabbage and spinach. Look for raw juices or smoothies that contain these ingredients, or blend them up yourself to start your day with a serious brain boost.
Dark leafy greens
Kale may have had it’s 15 minutes of food-trend fame, but it and it’s other leafy green counterparts, still hold real value for brain health. One study proved that tracked participants for 5 years found that those who ate 1 – 2 servings of leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens) had cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger, compared to those participants who consumed none. This is all thanks to the vitamin K in these dark leafy greens. Amp up your daily salad with additional greens, or blend some into your morning smoothie.
Hazel McCallion, the 96-year old former mayor of Mississauga, who occupied the role up until three years ago, told Toronto Life she eats walnuts daily. If Hurricane Hazel’s admirable performance in politics is any indicator, walnuts as a smart snack choice. They’re a powerhouse of nutrients considered important for brain function, including manganese, copper, iron, calcium, folic acid, Vitamin E, and antioxidants that may help to counteract age-related cognitive decline. Snack on a handful per day when the 3 PM munchies hit to get their benefits.
Our brains are made up of 60% fat, hence, they need it to function properly. Avocados are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats – accounting for up to 82% of the fruit’s total calories – that help promote bloodflow in the brain. They’re also high in vitamin K and folate which prevent blood clots in the brain and help improve cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration. Mash these tasty foods up and use as a simple dip with crudites or crackers, or use as a plant-cased butter substitute on toast.
Eggs are rich in choline, a B vitamin-like nutrient that had been linked with improved brain function. Case in point: one study tracked the eating habits of nearly 1,400 healthy adults for 10 years and found that choline intake correlated positively with better performance on certain memory tests. Just one egg contains about 145 mg, and experts say women should get 425 milligrams per day. Make it a habit to crack a couple of these for breakfast – not just when you’ve got a particularly demanding day at the office.
Main image via Greenhouse Juice Co.