When it comes to healthy eating, knowledge is power. A diet high in fats and low in fruits and vegetables is bad for your body — you know that already. But what research is beginning to prove is that a poor diet also has a big effect on your brain. And what good is a strong body without a sound mind?
Add these foods to your diet to help keep your mind young and your body strong. There are no mystical rainforest foods or other exotic, expensive eats on this list. These are foods you can find at the store and use in a variety of ways without breaking the bank. Now that is smart eating!
Start your day with the inexpensive egg! It’s packed with nutrients like choline, which studies have shown affects the areas of the brain responsible for memory, learning and reaction times in animals — especially aging animals. It also works in people and could potentially help prevent age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Eggs also have selenium, which has been shown to help brain function, plus a good amount of protein, which is made of amino acids that are used to transmit messages in the brain. A couple of eggs on whole grain toast or used in a veggie omelet are a great way to fuel up your body and mind all morning long.
Berry Smart Choice
Another versatile food is berries. There are several delicious varieties that can be added to cereal, oatmeal or yogurt — or just grab a handful for a sweet snack. It doesn’t get much smarter than berries, which contain antioxidants that help boost cognition, coordination and memory.
Blueberries and strawberries boast high levels of vitamin C and phytonutrients, which have been found to protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of the tissue degeneration that comes with age — helping to prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
It’s Easy Being Green
Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens contain brain-friendly carotenoids and flavonoids, which has been shown to slow mental decline by as much as 40 percent. Spinach is packed with vitamins A and K, magnesium, folate and iron, which beyond keeping your brain young, has been shown to relax blood vessels and help reduce the frequency of migraines and tension headaches. These greens are great in a salad, stacked on a sandwich or used in a wrap.
Fishing for Cognizance
Fish is a great protein source packed with the brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function and development. DHA is the omega-3 most associated with keeping your brain young by lowering dementia and stroke risks, slowing mental decline and improving memory as we get older. Try to get at least two servings per week of seafood.
Sweet and Crunchy
Nuts are well known for their high doses of omega-3s, but they are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which has been associated with less cognitive decline as you get older.
Research has also shown that dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, which gives us a great reason to eat chocolate. This sweet treat also contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration.
Here’s the problem: most people overdo it on these two fantastic brains foods — they are delicious, after all. Limit yourself to an ounce a day of each, and get your fix for sweet and crunchy without going overboard.
Yellow mustard contains a spice called turmeric, which is rich in antioxidants that help to keep your brain clear of waste that can cause inflammation and help to prevent Alzheimer’s. Plus, this benefit can be found in about a teaspoon a day, which will add flavor to your sandwich and save you about 80 calories if you switched from mayonnaise.