The human body is a complex and powerful system. The brain is the control center that directs the normal operation of various tissues and organs throughout the body.
The brain itself is an energy-intensive organ. It consumes about 20% of the body’s calories every day. In other words, you need adequate nutrition to keep your brain healthy.
Studies have shown that even the adult brain is constantly growing and repairing itself.
Our diet plays a key role in maintaining brain health. Many common foods can promote the overall structure of the brain to keep it sharp. Especially because as you get older, your brain function gradually deteriorates. Therefore, you should eat more foods that are good for brain health.
10 Foods That Are Good For Your Brain And Memory
Studies have found that natural compounds in food have a significant effect on protecting the brain. These compounds include antioxidants, flavonols, polyphenols, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals (especially folic acid, vitamin E and vitamins B).
The foods listed below are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, healthy fats, minerals and micronutrients. Regular consumption can help maintain the health of your brain.
1. Fatty fish
The human brain is composed of 60% fat. Some of this fat comes from the Omega-3 fatty acids which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids enter the cell membrane to support communication between neurons and control signaling molecules.
Therefore, the brain will not function properly without EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, the human body can’t produce Omega-3, so you must obtain it from your diet.
Fatty fish is the best source of EPA and DHA. These fish include trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, salmon and anchovy.
The American Heart Association recommends that people eat more than two servings of fatty fish a week.
The benefits of eating Omega-3-rich foods for the brain include:
- reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- slow down the rate of mental decline
- enhance memory
- improve the ability to handle stress
- promote serotonin production (serotonin is a chemical substance that can improve mood)
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and other berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Eating more berries can slow down the aging of the brain and other organs and improve or delay short-term memory loss.
The compounds (antioxidants and phytonutrients) in berries protect cells from harmful free radicals.
In addition, phytonutrients can change the way neurons communicate in the brain. These signal changes can prevent neuronal damage caused by inflammation, thereby improving memory and cognitive ability.
The effects of antioxidants in berries on brain health include:
- reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and the whole body
- improve communication between brain cells
- help brain cells form new connections while promoting memory and learning ability.
In terms of brain health, blueberries play the most obvious role. The peel, seeds and pulp of blueberries contain antioxidant polyphenols.
These nutrients can help protect capillaries and stimulate blood flow throughout the body and brain, thereby supporting cognitive health and memory.
3. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate with more than 80% cocoa content is an excellent source of antioxidant flavonoids. Eating more dark chocolate can improve blood circulation in the brain and reduce inflammation.
In addition, dark chocolate can help your brain fight oxidative stress, thereby slowing down age-related cognitive decline, as well as helping to prevent brain diseases.
Other health benefits of dark chocolate include:
- fight fatigue and aging
- improve mood
- improve concentration and alertness
- improve memory
- provide the brain with magnesium, zinc, fiber and other essential nutrients.
Turmeric is a common spice. It contains strong antioxidant curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral effects.
Curcumin can increase BDNF (brain-derived nerve growth factor), improve brain function and slow down brain degeneration.
BDNF is a protein that helps nerve growth and regulates neurotransmitters in the brain. The differentiation of growth and remodeling of neurons are all related to it. Many brain diseases, such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease are also related to BDNF.
Other benefits of turmeric include:
- increase the oxygen intake of the brain
- increase memory and cognitive function
- improve the immune system
5. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
In particular, nuts and seeds are rich in antioxidant vitamin E, which can protect cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. In addition, studies have found that vitamin E can also help improve cognitive ability and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
The best nuts and seeds for brain health:
- chia seeds
- pumpkin seeds
Drinking coffee can improve memory and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2018 study showed that caffeine may also increase the brain’s ability to process information.
Researchers have found that caffeine increases the entropy of the brain, which refers to the complex and changeable brain activity. When the entropy is high, the brain can process more information.
The antioxidants in coffee can promote brain health and help alleviate problems such as memory loss due to aging.
Studies have found that drinking coffee may reduce the following risks:
- cognitive decline
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
In addition to coffee, green tea and black tea also contain antioxidants that can promote brain health.
However, the caffeine in coffee and tea also has a nerve-stimulating effect. Therefore, you shouldn’t drink coffee or tea before bed, because it can affect your sleep.
Avocado is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which can promote blood flow and support the nerves that transmit information in the brain. In fact, avocados are similar to blueberries because they can also optimize brain health.
Avocados are also rich in several nutrients necessary for the brain, including folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E and copper.
In a 2018 study conducted by Tufts University, 40 healthy adults over the age of 50 were followed up. These participants ate one avocado a day for six months. The study found that the participants’ problem-solving ability and memory had been significantly improved.
In addition, avocados are high in magnesium, which can help lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cognitive decline.
8. Whole grains
Your brain cannot concentrate and function normally if it doesn’t have enough energy.
Whole grains are rich in fiber and release glucose into the blood at a slow and steady rate. Glucose powers your brain.
Whole grains also contain vitamin E, which can improve brain health.
Common whole-grain foods are:
- brown rice
- whole-wheat bread
Eggs are rich in a variety of essential nutrients for the brain, including vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid and choline.
Choline is an important micronutrient used by the human body to produce acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.
In addition, eggs also contain lutein. Both choline and lutein are important for brain development, memory and learning.
Studies have shown that low levels of free choline in the blood are related to poor cognitive ability of the elderly. It shows that increasing choline intake at this stage may have potential benefits.
In addition to the benefits for eyesight, higher lutein concentrations in the brain and serum can also improve the cognitive function of the elderly.
Since choline and lutein are mostly present in the yolk, it is best to eat whole eggs.
10. Green leafy vegetables
Kale, spinach or any other leafy green vegetables are rich in nutrients, like lutein and zeaxanthin, that are good for the brain. These two types of carotenoids have been shown to improve brain efficiency and memory.
Researchers at Chicago Rush University Medical Center found that eating a serving of green leafy vegetables per day can significantly reduce memory loss and better maintain cognitive function. [*]
Other nutrients in green leafy vegetables have neuroprotective effects to help slow down cognitive decline. These nutrients including folic acid, phylloquinone, nitrate, α-tocopherol and kaempferol.
Your brain is the control center of your body. It is responsible for maintaining a normal heartbeat, breathing, movement, thinking and feeling.
Your daily diet has an important impact on the structure and health of your brain. Many foods are good for brain health. Increasing your intake of these foods can help promote brain function, improve memory and slow down cognitive decline.