Looking to boost focus, improve memory, or simply treat your mind better? Perhaps it’s time for a tweak in your diet. Just like your physical health benefits from a well-balanced diet, so can your mind when you supply it with the proper nutrients. Consider eating the following foods that have been proven to have positive effects on the mind.
Your brain—like any organ—uses energy from your food to function properly. Glucose is the brain’s main source of energy, and a steady supply of it will help you focus. Whole grains will help release glucose into the blood slowly to keep you alert all day. Get your fill of whole grains through options like wheat bran, brown pasta, and “brown” cereals.
You already know that fresh fruit is a healthy option, but did you know that blueberries can help improve short-term memory? In a study conducted in aging rats, blueberry consumption also improved balance and coordination—senses that are controlled by the brain’s cerebellum.
You’ve long heard the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and there may be some truth to that. Apples—especially the skins—are packed with an antioxidant called quercetin. Like any antioxidant, quercetin helps protect against free radicals. Free radicals harm neuron linings, which causes cognitive decline, but eating fruits like apples that are high in antioxidants like this can prevent this damage.
Tomatoes are also rich in antioxidants, but it’s the presence of one called lycopene that can do a lot for the brain. It’s believed that this antioxidant may help prevent some of the free radical damage that leads to Alzheimer’s. Add tomatoes to your diet by sprinkling a couple pieces atop your salad.
Spinach has a great reputation as a health food. It’s no wonder it’s earned that reputation when you consider how nutrient-packed these leafy greens are. Folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K are present in spinach, which all can help prevent dementia. Add a little olive oil to your spinach salad since the healthy fats in Olive Oil help boost absorption of vitamin E and K.
While fat gets a bad reputation, it’s an essential nutrient that actually does a lot of good for your body and your mind. Essential fatty acids are those that your body can’t make and must be obtained through the food you eat. Fish like salmon provide you with these healthy fats like omega-3, which your body uses in the brain but can’t make on its own. Omega-3 fat may protect against Alzheimer’s, and the vitamin D present in salmon may help prevent cognitive decline.
You may have heard of broccoli as a “superfood,” and that’s because it’s packed with nutrients. One such nutrient it’s high in is vitamin K, which may help boost cognition. One study shows that higher levels of vitamin K in the blood is linked to improved memory in older adults.
Your brain needs a steady stream of glucose energy since it can’t store glucose on its own. That’s where beans come in since they help stabilize blood glucose levels. Go ahead and try any beans you like, but if you’re unsure of where to start, try a ½ cup of black beans every day. Add beans to your diet by placing them on your salad, eating them in a soup, or having them on their own.
Looking to add healthy alternatives to your diet? Start with these mentioned foods, but remember that a balanced, varied diet is best for your body and your mind. How will understanding these foods’ benefits on the mind change your diet?