10 Brain Foods for a Healthy and Young Mind
Published | 6 min read
Strong evidence suggests that certain brain foods have a neuroprotective effect and may even help prevent dementia. Here’s a list of brain foods to help improve your attention span and memory.
For instance, a study conducted over 16 years among the Taiwanese found that their risk of cognitive decline decreased by 63%. The participants, who were above 53 years old, combined regular physical activity and a high intake of fruits and vegetables.
Low glycaemic index foods show to have positive effects on attention, memory, and functional capacity. In contrast, foods high in simple sugars can lead to difficulty concentrating and attention.
The MIND Diet
Nutritionists advise that a healthy diet, not just individual foods, supports your immune system and protects you against chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Diets like the Mediterranean and DASH, which promote healthy ageing and a robust heart, can deliver potential brain-protective benefits, too.
Scientists combined elements from these two dietary approaches to develop the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet). It was designed to reduce the risk of dementia and slow down the process of neurodegeneration, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
The MIND Diet’s list of brain foods includes:
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
So far, studies show that green leafy vegetables had the most significant neuroprotective effects.
Foods That Keep Your Brain Young
Scientists have identified nutrients and compounds that can benefit brain health. Which foods have these nutrients, and how do they impact brain health? Here are a few essential ones.
1. Fatty fish
2. Leafy greens
Load up on green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli.
Greens are also rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. Antioxidants can help protect the brain from oxidative stress, which occurs when your body produces excess free radicals. Oxidative stress can damage cells and contribute to mental decline.
Flavonoids in blueberries have been shown to improve blood flow to your brain and enhance cognitive function for healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment.
Other berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also rich in antioxidants. Eat berries fresh or frozen,
4. Dark chocolate
Regularly consuming dark chocolate reduces the risk of depression symptoms by 70% more than those who reported no chocolate consumption based on a study of almost 14,000 participants.
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids like epicatechin, magnesium, caffeine and theobromine. The latter two are stimulants that can enhance brain function and improve mood.
5. Fermented foods
Eating fermented foods may have long-and short-term outcomes on brain function. For example, a study reported that participants who ate two to three servings of food like sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha daily experienced reduced stress.
Fermented food contains tryptophan, an amino acid vital to the production of serotonin, which regulates mood. Low levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety and depression.
6. Tree nuts
Evidence suggests that tree nuts may play a role in maintaining cognitive health and preventing cognitive decline, particularly in older adults and those at higher risk.
Walnuts (he tao, 核桃), rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds (xing ren, 杏仁), packed with antioxidant polyphenols, are linked to better critical thinking abilities and improved memory function.
Eggs are a good source of choline, which may help maintain brain health. Choline is essential for producing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in memory and learning. Studies have also suggested that choline intake may be associated with better cognitive function and a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Additionally, eggs contain high-quality protein and other vital nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and folate.
This bright yellow
An 18-month trial in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry suggests that a daily intake of a particular form of curcumin may improve memory and attention in adults who have no dementia.
Try taking an oat powder with curcumin for anti-inflammatory properties and pain relief.
Enjoy eggs and avocado on toast for brunch? That’s great because eating avocado may benefit brain ageing. The fruit is rich in healthy fats, fibre, B vitamins, carotenoids and monounsaturated fats. It also has fatty acid profiles similar to extra virgin olive oil and nuts that can aid cognition.
A study among American adults aged 60 and above showed that those who ate avocado regularly scored higher on three types of cognition tests.
The kiwifruit has a remarkable abundance of vitamin C, polyphenols, potassium, and folate. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants that may protect from oxidative stress associated with cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
A study looked into the impact of kiwi on learning and memory impaired by lead exposure. Among the five types of kiwifruit, Qinmei kiwi, which contains more polyphenols, has the most excellent antioxidative effect.
What foods are you adding to your meals to sharpen focus and preserve memory? Tell us below!
This article is adapted from the Top 5 diet tips to keep your brain young, which is available on the
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