Brain foods to improve your memory.
In the search to find brain-healthy foods that improve memory or prevent memory loss, there’s general agreement that certain brain foods, and the nutrients they contain, are considered to be memory-boosting power foods for the brain that are also smart additions to your diet.
The nutrients contained in memory boosting foods.
Your brain relies on glucose — sugar broken down from carbohydrates — as its principal source of fuel. The healthier the carbohydrates you consume, the better your body will be able to stabilize blood sugar levels and elevate brain function. Complex carbohydrates from whole grain breads and pastas, and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables are a better choice of carbohydrate to stabilize blood sugar levels and elevate brain energy.
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for mental clarity, concentration and focus. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, particularly salmon, albacore tuna, sardines and swordfish are said to sharpen mental acuity.
Antioxidants may improve memory by fighting against free radicals, which damage brain cells. Free radicals are byproducts of natural body processes such as breathing, digestion and cellular metabolism, but exposure to sunlight, smoke and pollution can also lead to the accumulation of free radicals in the body. If not regularly cleared from the system, free radicals can contribute to the development of disease, and generally promote premature aging. Studies have shown that people with higher blood levels of the antioxidants vitamins C and E have fared better on memory tests.
The B vitamins also play an important role in cognitive function. An amino acid known as homocysteine is associated with clogged arteries, which result in decreased brain blood flow, causing impairment of mental function. B vitamins such as folate, Vitamin B6 and B12, help lower homocysteine levels. A deficiency in vitamin B12 is associated with cognitive problems such as memory lapses. B6 also bolsters memory.
Which brain-healthy foods contain these nutrients?
Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta carotene. Research suggests these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline.
Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, but be sure to choose varieties that are low in mercury, such as salmon, cod, canned light tuna and pollack. Non-fish sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds, avocados and walnuts.
Flavonoids are natural plant pigments that give berries their brilliant hues. Research shows they also help improve memory. Make sure berries, especially blueberries, are part of your memory-boosting food arsenal.
The caffeine in coffee and tea has helped people score better on tests of mental function. Caffeine might also help solidify new memories, according to other research.
Seeds and nuts are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats, and one type of nut in particular might also improve memory. One 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores. Walnuts are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps lower blood pressure and protect arteries.
Don’t forget dark chocolate. Cacao flavonoids seem to be good for the brain. They may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning. They may also stimulate blood flow in the brain. Eating dark chocolate with a cacao content of 80 percent or higher may improve brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning, and may also provide other brain-related benefits.
The most important food that’s good for your brain?
Water. It’s an essential building block for your brain, filling the spaces between the cells and helping to form proteins, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste products. Even a 2% to 4% decrease in water intake throws the brain off balance, causing delayed reactions, headaches, mood swings and more.
Consider adding power foods for the brain to your diet and elevate your memory, alertness and mood. You’ll see benefits for the entire body.
10 Essential Power Foods for the Brain
Asparagus contains folate, which contributes to learning and problem-solving.
Avocados are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support the nervous system.
Bananas have magnesium, which promotes nerve and muscle function.
Broccoli contains calcium, required for the brain to process nerve signals.
Garbanzo Beans are a good source of vitamin B6.
Lean Poultry contains phosphorus, a mineral involved in nerve signals.
Low-Fat Milk and Yogurt provide calcium to help the brain process nerve signals.
Nuts contain magnesium, important for nerves and muscles to function properly.
Spinach is an excellent source of folate, which fosters cognition.
Tuna, Salmon and other fatty fish contain vitamin B6, which promotes cognition.