Before you reach for an over-the-counter supplement with fancy promises, don’t forget that nature has its own brain food to help you boost memory, lift that mental fog and start feeling fantastic again.
This month, we’re taking a look at ways to boost your brain power, and none too soon, right? With an election coming up and the holiday season just around the corner, we could all use a sharper mind and better focus.
Here are my Top 5+ favorite brain foods to add to your October menu!
You better be-leaf me!
I’ve said it before, and I’m sayin’ it again: dark, leafy greens are so important to a healthy diet. And it’s scientifically proven that they’re great for boosting your brain power.
Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards, broccoli and even dandelion greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E. Vitamin E has been shown to “improve mitochondrial function and overall neurological performance” as well as being a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells.
They also contain high amounts of the phytonutrients vitamin K and folate, both of which reduce inflammation and promote healthy cell growth.
So start your morning off with a delicious green smoothie or sauteed greens and keep the green theme going throughout the day. Vegetables should take up half of your plate at meals anyway!
Fatty and oily are probably two words you don’t expect to hear from me, but when it comes to your seafood choices, they are awesome for your brain.
Our body cannot naturally produce the essential fatty acids (EFAs) it needs, but you can get your weekly dose by consuming fatty, oily fish such as salmon, cod, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, and pollack. Wild caught is best.
Fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, which is linked to the prevention of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. The one-two punch of these compounds can also boost your mood.
No fish for you!
If fish is too well, fishy for you—or you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can get a good dose of plant-based omega-3 from seeds like flaxseed, pumpkin, hemp and chia. Pumpkin seeds in particular are also rich in zinc, which is “vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills”. They’re also full of “stress-busting magnesium” and important B vitamins, so they really are the perfect Fall treat!
You can even get it from my bff, the avocado. I mean, you had to know I could not NOT mention my favorite food, the avocado! Besides being a superfood that is amazing for your hair, skin and nails—avocados are rich in folate and vitamin K, which improve cognitive brain functions like concentration and memory. Back that HASS up, my friends!
Go a little nuts
Ok, we’ve covered seeds, but nuts are also great for your mind too! I like ALL the nuts! But, walnuts specifically are the standout brain food. They’re even kinda shaped like a brain! A 2015 UCLA study showed this tasty and popular ingredient improved people’s cognitive test scores. They’re also loaded with the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), shown to improve blood pressure and protect your heart. Another win-win!
Sorry, brownies not included though. 😉
Don’t be latte!
There is good news for coffee drinkers, tea lovers and wine aficionados. Thankfully! Moderate amounts of your favorite beverage may actually be good for you.
While water is still king when it comes to keeping your body running smoothly, one study showed that up to 300 milligrams of caffeine a day (equivalent to a single espresso, 12-16 ounces of coffee or a lot of tea, haha) stimulated the brain and central nervous system. Coffee drinks in midlife have a possible lower risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease too.
Another study at Johns Hopkins University showed that increased caffeine helps participants create and sustain new memories. So you don’t necessarily need to kiss your morning jolt goodbye.
Or your evening wind-down… One glass of red wine doesn’t seem to be a problem either. Red wine contains flavonoids which help reduce inflammation and protect the brain. These plant-derived compounds “may reverse age-related declines in memory and learning” by protecting vulnerable neurons and pathways in your brain. Bring on the vino!
Berry good choice
No surprise here, but berries are also high in flavonoids. And get this, a 2012 study at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that “women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years”. That’s astonishing! Just from enjoying something so sweet and delicious, ladies.
If blueberries aren’t your favorite flavor though, dark red and purple fruits and veggies like blackberries and red cabbage contain the same protective compounds called anthocyanins. Try to get two servings of berries a week to maximize the brain food benefits.
Which brain food is your favorite? There are so many available courtesy of Mother Nature; is there one we left off that you think should be on the list? What do you do to keep yourself all brainy? Let me know in The Badass Beauty Club on Facebook!
And be sure to join me for a Facebook LIVE discussion every Friday at 9AM PT.
LOVE + smart snacking!