Recent finding s from a neurologic research has established that numerous factors contribute to cognitive decline including disease and chronic stress. More importantly, the study further established that dietary factors have significant influences on synaptic plasticity, neuronal function and overall mental function and brain health (1).
The food we consume literary powers our brain and consequently affects our mood, mental clarity, focus, memory and overall energy. How much your brain can perform optimally largely depends on the kind of food you eat.
Some foods nourish your brain while others deplete it. Wrong foods such as refined sugars and carbohydrates can leave you feeling mentally depleted, anxious, foggy, and depressed (2). This is because these foods cause sudden but short-lived spikes in blood sugar levels. The brain needs a steady supply of energy to function optimally; thus these fluctuations in energy creates the feeling of fogginess, confusion, and irritability.
On the other hand, the right foods can help be positive, mentally sharp, relaxed and productive. Moreover, such food will protect you against various degenerative brain diseases and mental disorders in years to come. In this article, we will explore the top seven foods that are good for the brain and focus.
Top of our list is fish, which deservedly not only has a reputation for being very nutritious but is also a top-notch brain food. It is a major dietary source of omega-3 essential fatty acids which are a key to the development of the brain cells and memory (3). The quality of brain cells largely depends on the amounts of these fats in your diet.
Moreover, the anti-inflammatory aspect of the omega-3 helps fight chronic brain inflammation that can cause anxiety, depression, brain fog, and even more serious chronic disorders such as Alzheimer disease and dementia (4). The cold water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel have got high levels of omega-3 fatty acids than the commonly available tilapia and tuna.
- Leafy Green Vegetables
The leafy green vegetables such as kales are full of flavonoids, antioxidants, carotene, and polyphenols, that not only help protect your brain but also boost your brain power. Moreover, they contain high levels of vitamins B and C. In fact, one serving, of green vegetables such as kales has as much vitamin C as an orange (5).
Vitamin C is a natural antidepressant that boosts the levels of serotonin the brain and in the bloodstream. The folate found in vitamin B helps in brain development, prevents depression and memory loss, and slows down brain aging. Green leafy vegetables also contain vitamin K, Omega-3’s and magnesium that fight heart disease and type 2 diabetes that can take a huge toll on the brain.
By now, it is likely that you have noticed that foods with high levels of antioxidants and essential fatty acids are the best brain foods. True to the prevailing trend on this list, avocados are one of the richest sources of vitamin E, C, K, and B, and essential fatty acids (6).
With every organ in the body needing proper blood flow, especially the brain and the heart, avocados enhance blood flow throughout the body. This way, they offer a simple, yet tasty way to supply the brain cells with the necessary, nutrients and oxygen it needs to function properly.
Additionally, avocados contain dietary fiber keeps you full longer and thus giving the brain a steady source of energy for an extended period.
Almost all types of berries including the blackberries, blueberries, goji berries, acai berries among others are beneficial to the brain function. They are a rich source of antioxidants such as proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, resveratrol, and tannins. These antioxidants can help alleviate symptoms of neurological diseases and prevent damage to the brain cells by reducing oxidative stress caused by toxins (7).
They are also suitable for memory and concentration because the antioxidants stimulate the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain; keeping it fresh for extended periods of time.
- Coconut Oil
The use of coconut oil as brain food has started more recently. It was demonized in the past due to its high levels of saturated fats. When used in moderate quantities, it is extremely healthy and can have great nutrition value in the brain. One of the most excellent reasons it is great for your brain is that it contains high levels of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) essential for brain cell development.
Moreover, research indicates that the MCTs offer a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s which can be considered a form of diabetes of the brain (8). Just like the rest of the body, the brain depends on absorption of glucose as the fuel. However, the parts of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s are no longer able to absorb glucose to produce energy. MCTs found in coconut oil can bypass the metabolism once they are broken down into ketones to feed energy directly to the brain.
All nuts are brimming with vitamins, proteins, and minerals. More particularly, they are closely associated with vitamin E, an antioxidant that prevents cognitive decline with age. Nuts also contain amino acids and essential oils that facilitate focus.
Walnuts are the most nutritious of all nuts containing pedunculagin and polyphenol elements that can reduce brain inflammation. The walnut extract is known to prevent accumulation of toxic beta-amyloid proteins in the Alzheimer’s patient’s brains consequently increasing memory recall and reaction time.
- Dark Chocolate
Those who don’t love leafy green vegetables or avocados will be glad to know that I saved the best for the last. Everyone loves chocolate, but not every type of chocolate is good for your brain. Forget about the sugary, milky kind and go for the dark chocolate. It can help you focus because it contains a significant amount of caffeine that heightens the level of alertness (9). It also contains magnesium, that stimulates the release of serotonin and endorphins which helps heighten your mood and reduce stress.
Just as you fuel your car with the right fuel for the best performance, so should you fuel your brain with the right food. The above list of the top seven foods that are good for your brain will help you improve your brain’s performance and keep you focused longer.
Name: Amelia Johnson
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Amelia is a writer/editor with an endless passion for bringing a lot of useful and trustworthy information to the community. She founded stayhealthyways.com, a blog dedicated to sharing quality articles related to health, nutrition, fitness, and beauty. As a typical introvert, Amelia is a perfectionist in work. At times of leisure, she reads, listens to music, chats with some close friends and walks with her pet.