Here’s Some Brain Food for Thought October 17 2014, 0 Comments

Lean meats are good for your muscles, Milk is good for your bones, Cheerios are ‘good for your heart’, but what food is good for your brain?

We’ve done the research and compiled the most complete list of best brain foods available. Although there is no magic recipe for a perfectly functioning brain, these foods will give you the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy memory and sharp mental focus.

Keep in mind that a balanced diet and moderation is key. You shouldn’t go overboard on any food….even delicious cheerios.

APPLES

A (red) apple a day keeps the brain health-ay. Red apple skins are packed with a compound called quercetin, which acts as a neuroprotector. A recent study showed that quercetin was effective in protecting the hippocampus, which creates long-term memories[1].

For other foods high in quercetin, see BLUEBERRIES, BUCKWHEAT, CILANTRO, CRANBERRIES, RED ONIONS.

[1] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf049243r

BLUEBERRIES

Scientists have been experimenting with the incredible effects of blueberries even before Willy Wonka. Countless studies have linked a diet high in blueberries with improved memory, learning, cognitive function, and reduced age-related decline[1][2][3].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24446769
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23723987
[3] http://enews.tufts.edu/stories/101399BlueberriesMayImproveMemory.htm

 

BREWER’S YEAST

If you’ve ever had the thought that healthy food doesn’t taste good…you’re right, when it comes to brewer’s yeast. Apparently, there’s a good reason to eat it (try putting it in your soup, vegetable use, or even sprinkled on popcorn).  Brewer’s Yeast is one of the best food sources of thiamine (vitamin B1) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6), which are critical for brain function. You can also get Brewer’s Yeast B12-fortified, which is also important for brain function.

 

BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER

Broccoli is high in vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower….AND Unless you want to eat raw beef liver, broccoli and cauliflower are the best sources for getting natural choline. Choline is a critical nutrient for maintaining healthy neurotransmitters, which keep you focused and your memory sharp. In the last few decades, the positive benefits of choline in the brain have been researched extensively. In 1998 the Food and Nutrition Board classified choline as an essential nutrient[1].

For other good sources of choline see CHICKEN AND EGGS

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choline

 

BUCKWHEAT

Despite the name, buckwheat is gluten-free and actually isn’t a wheat…it’s BETTER! 1 cup of buckwheat contains ample amounts of protein, dietary fiber AND 98% of your required magnesium intake. According to some studies, the American adult only gets 66 percent of the recommended requirement of magnesium[1]. It doesn’t help that stress has also been shown to deplete magnesium in the body[2]. Magnesium isn’t an easy mineral to find in a typical diet but it’s extremely important for maintaining healthy brain cell receptors. Magnesium has been shown to relax blood vessels, which increases blood flow. You can throw buckwheat in salads or boil it up as a hot breakfast cereal like cream of wheat.

For other foods high in magnesium, see CHICKPEAS OR GARBANZO BEANS

[1] “Dietary Magnesium and C-reactive Protein Levels,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 24, No. 3, 166-171 (2005).
[2] Dean C. The Magnesium Miracle. New York: Ballantine Books; 2007


CILANTRO

Throw on the garnish! Cilantro is loaded with Quercetin (see APPLES).

 

CELERY

In 2010, the university of Illinois discovered that luteolin, which is found in celery was related to lower rates of age-related memory loss[1]. Researchers discovered it appeared to limit the inflammatory response in the brain, which experts believe is a primary cause of neurodegeneration.

For other foods high in luteolin, see PEPPERS, THYME

[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101013122601.htm

 

CHEWING GUM

Need help sticking to a task… chew a slice of your favorite gum. Research done by Cardiff University showed that gum-chewers outperformed non-chewers in intelligence and mood tests[1]. Chewing gum actually improves alertness and your mood!

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjop.12025/abstract

 

CHICKEN AND EGGS

Whether it’s breakfast for dinner or dinner…for dinner, Chicken and Eggs are a great source of Choline, which can help improve cognitive performance and memory AND Vitamin E, an essential vitamin which prevents cognitive decline (see broccoli)[1].

For other foods high in Vitamin E, see PUMPKIN SEEDS and WHOLEGRAINS

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24381967

 

CHICKPEAS OR GARBANZO BEANS

Like Brewer’s Yeast, chickpeas and garbanzo beans are a GREAT source of natural magnesium. If you’re looking for the ultimate source for magnesium, try kelp. But really, you’re probably not going to put kelp in anything you eat so stick to chickpeas or garbanzo beans.

For more info on Magnesium see BUCKWHEAT

 

CHOCOLATE

It’s a beautiful thing when the foods that taste good are the ones that keep your body running smooth. One recent study on flavonols, which are found in dark chocolate, red wine, green tea and blueberries offer a short-term boost in cognitive skills[1]. Additionally, polyphenols in cocoa may prevent cognitive impairments related to aging[2].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794461
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18179729

 

COFFEE

Did you know caffeine makes you energized? Did ya? Did ya? Did you also know that the amount of caffeine in an eight-ounce cup of coffee can improve short-term memory and attention[1][2]? Now ya know!

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21244169
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20816912

 

COMPLEX CARBS

Your brain is hungry! Feed it. Although the brain only makes up 2% of your body weight, it consumes 20% of your energy. Complex Carbs boost alertness by providing the energy your body needs to operate all day long. Whole-wheat, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal and brown rice are great alternatives to eating sugary drinks, starches, or processed foods that leave you with an energy crash.

 

CRANBERRIES

Packed with quercetin, these babies are also a fantastic source of antioxidants (second only to blueberries).

See APPLES for more info on quercetin

 

CURRY

Who said spicy Indian food wasn’t good for you? Curry is loaded with curcumin, which is being comprehensively studied right now for its many cognitive benefits. Some research shows that curcumin is able to boost memory, slow the progression of alzheimer’s, and stimulate the creation of new brain cells. Other studies suggest curcumin may also clear out amyloid plaque, which is the brain muck that is thought to be a cause of Alzheimer’s[1].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781139/

 

FATTY FOODS

You won’t see fatty foods on many other health lists, but your brain isn’t a skimpy eater. Recent studies suggest that fatty foods improve long-term memory[1]. Apparently, a hormone that is released while digesting fats strengthens your long-term memory maker (the hippocampus). But I’d still take it easy on the ranch dressing.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2683095/?tool=pubmed

 

FISH

Some like it, some hate it, but everyone’s brain loves it! Fish is chock full of essential fatty acids that cannot be made by the body. Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid found readily in salmon, trout, kippers, pilchards, mackerel, herring and sardines. Omega-3s have been widely researched and the benefits of dietary supplementation are obvious. Studies show that Omega-3s improve brain function and also heart function(the American Heart Association recommends regular consumption of Omega-3s)[1][2]. A diet low in Omega-3s has also been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s[3].

For more foods with Omega-3s see WALNUTS

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20434961
[2] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16275829

 

FRUITS AND VEGGIES

You’ve probably seen fruits and vegetables on every health list you’ve ever looked at...so it should come as no surprise that it’s on this brain health list. Colorful produce is packed with antioxidants that protect your brain. In a study done in 2008, researchers discovered that people who drank fruit and vegetable juice were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s[1].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2266591/?tool=pubmed

 

GREEN TEA

Caffeine and L-Theanine are two of the most well tested cognitive enhancers on the supplement market. Green Tea contains both of them so it’s no surprise that green tea helps enhance memory, mental alertness and slow the brain’s aging.

 

MILK

Milk...it does a body (and brain) good! Milk is a great source of choline, which helps improve cognitive performance, and Vitamin B12, which is an important brain protector, especially in the elderly[1]. A recent study showed that a glass of milk a day helps people perform better on memory tests[2].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213264
[2] http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/glass-milk-day-boosts-brain-power-study-dairy-journal-boasts-adults-consumed-dairy-products-scored-higher-memory-tests-article-1.1015243

 

PEPPERS

Red, Green, Raw, Hot, Serrano, Jalapeno…YOU NAME IT! Peppers are loaded with Luteolin.

See CELERY for more info on luteolin.

 

PUMPKIN SEEDS

You don’t need to wait until Halloween for a good excuse to indulge in some pumpkin seeds. A handful of pumpkin seeds is all you need for your daily amount of zinc and Omega-3s, which can improve memory and maintain cognitive functions[1][2].

[1] http://www.naturalnews.com/033722_zinc_memory.html
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3258096/?tool=pubmed

 

RED MEAT

For all the meat lovers out there, this should come as good news. Beef, pork and lamb are top sources of vitamin B12 (also referred to as cobalamin). Vitamin B12 is an energy-booster and critical for brain protection[1]. If you’re a vegetarian, try drinking MILK. If you’re a vegan, try a vitamin B12-fortified BREWER’S YEAST.

See MILK and BREWER’S YEAST for other foods with B12.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213264

 

RED ONIONS

Onion Rings anyone? The outer rings and the part closest to the root contain high amounts of quercetin[1].

See APPLES for a better description of quercetin.

[1] Smith C, Lombard KA, Peffley EB, Liu W (2003). "Genetic Analysis of Quercetin in Onion (Allium cepa L.) Lady Raider". The Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural Resource (Agriculture Consortium of Texas) 16: 24–8. Archived from the original on February 25, 2007.

 

SAGE

Is it a coincidence that the word sage refers to an herb and a profoundly wise man? I think not! Sage was recently shown to improve memory in a study that confirms centuries-old theories[1]. Sage isn’t the only spice that boosts cognition, Cumin and cilantro are also powerful memory-boosters[2].

[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030901091846.htm
[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-douglas-fields/effect-of-spices-on-memory_b_905573.html

 

SUGAR

Everybody knows a bag of skittles is great for your health right? Well...maybe a few skittles is. Researchers found that a drink containing 25g of sugar was able to boost memory and attention[1]. To put this into perspective for you, a 12oz coke can has 39g of sugar...so go easy! Excess sugar has negative health effects.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22223097

 

THYME

I was going to think of a good pun for this one, but I ran out of thyme… super lame jokes aside, thyme is loaded with luteolin, the magic anti-inflammatory for the brain.

See CELERY for more info on luteolin.

 

WALNUTS

For those of you looking for something a little less ‘fishy’ and little more ‘nutty’, walnuts are a great source of omega-3s and vitamin B6. Although salmon is one of the richest sources of omega 3s, it’s also not a food you’d want to eat daily because of high mercury content. Walnuts are a great afternoon snack and you can easily sprinkle them on salads.

 

WATER

Chug! Chug! Chug! Water makes up 75% of your brain, so if you’re not staying hydrated then your brain is the one taking the punishment. Studies have shown that a 2% dehydration is enough to alter function and performance[1]. This can be particularly devastating for children and the elderly. Researchers also discovered that dehydration distracts us during tasks that require focus[2].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24692140
[2] http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2013 .00363/abstract

 

WHOLE GRAINS

Looking for focus? Look no further. The brain’s ability to focus and concentrate comes from a steady supply of energy, which is relayed through glucose in the blood. Whole grains with a low-GI release glucose slowly which keeps your mind focused all day long. Try brown rice, whole-wheat bread and oatmeal.

 

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