Top 5 Foods for Brain Health
Protecting the health and function of your brain has become more important these days, thanks to the rise in conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s (or at least the increase in diagnosis). And while mental gymnastics, music therapy, and a variety of other potential solutions have emerged as prospective treatments for those with diminishing brain capacity of some sort, it turns out that the phrase “you are what you eat” could hold the keys to protecting and prolonging the health of your brain.
While you’ve no doubt heard about superfoods that contribute to your overall health, you might not realize that there are also foods that provide you with specific nutrients that have the ability to increase or at least maintain your brain function. Here are just a few that you should definitely consider adding to your diet if you want to stay sharp as a tack well into your golden years.
Top 5 Foods for Brain Health:
- Avocado. Despite having a fairly high fat content, this fruit has emerged as a healthy addition to any diet, and it’s particularly good for your brain. This is actually because of the type of fat found in avocados. Monounsaturated fats, as it turns out, are great for you (albeit in small doses). And on the brain front, in particular, they can help in two ways. For one thing monounsaturated fats contribute to healthy blood flow, bringing much-needed oxygen to the brain. However, they can also decrease blood pressure. In case you didn’t know, hypertension has been cited as playing a role in decreased cognitive function. And any food that protects not only your brain but also your cardiopulmonary system is probably one that you want to add to your diet.
- Blueberries. These tasty treats are not just a great way to spice up your boring cereal in the morning; they also contain antioxidants that help to fight off free radical damage caused by environmental factors like the sun, pollution, and the presence of chemical toxins. What they do for your brain, though, is increase motor skills and your ability to learn (or at least that’s what they’ve been proven to do in studies with aging rats). And they’re delicious, so who’s complaining?
- Nuts. Like avocados, nuts are high in fat, so you shouldn’t eat too many. However, most nuts offer not only good fats, but also vitamin E, which has been shown to stave off decline in cognitive abilities as you age. Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, and many of your favorites will fit the bill, but you might want to opt for unsalted options, since excessive sodium intake can lead to unhealthy issues like hypertension over time.
- Chocolate. Believe it or not, small amounts of dark chocolate are actually good for your health, particularly where your brain is concerned. This is due in part to antioxidants, which we have already established will help to protect your brain from free radicals. But as a short-term bonus, dark chocolate also contains caffeine and other stimulants that increase focus and improve mood. About one ounce each day is considered a healthy serving.
- Salmon. Although wild fish is known to contain mercury, thus limiting the amount you want to consume (about 1-2 servings a week is okay), salmon also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to bodily health even though our bodies don’t produce them naturally. This substance is imperative for proper brain function because it helps to improve cellular membranes, which in turn increases your ability to transmit brain signals. If you don’t like the taste of salmon, other good sources include tuna, halibut, and sardines (walnuts and flaxseed are also an option). But you can also turn to fish oil or even calamari oil supplements to get your daily dose without having to eat fish.