Brain Food: Eat These 25 Foods to Improve Your Memory
Did you know that certain foods can help fight cognitive decline? If you want to keep your memory sharp, add these 25 foods to your diet on a regular basis.
It is common knowledge that food helps all functions of the body, from pain-fighting to immune-boosting, to concentration-benefiting. Many foods are touted for their memory-boosting effects, but if you don’t have a perfect memory already, you may forget which foods are good for the brain and why.
If your memory could use a little boost, add these delicious and healthy foods to your shopping list so that you can have the best memory of your life.
Grains often get a bad reputation for housing those extra carbohydrates that can lead to a fluffy middle, but many grains also contain beneficial nutrients. Want a hint for how to eat your grains? Try to balance your consumption of carbs with protein and fat. Carbs should ideally not make up more than 30 percent of your diet. Additionally, heat-processed grains (like cereal and processed bread products), do not provide the same level of nutrients as fresher grains.
What it has: Quinoa is full of delicious nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin B6, iron, saturated fat, and potassium. One serving of quinoa will provide you with 43 percent of iron, 40 percent of vitamin B6, 83 percent of magnesium, 27 percent of potassium, and 15 percent of fats based on the FDA’s recommended daily dietary intake.
Brain-boosting benefit: Quinoa contains a high level of fiber, which promotes healthy blood circulation, according to Web MD. Potassium, fat, vitamin B6, and magnesium are also memory-boosting nutrients.
What it has: Barley contains many beneficial nutrients, including 24 percent of the FDA’s recommendations for fiber, and also contains many other brain-boosting ingredients, like vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and selenium.
Brain-boosting benefit: Barley is one of the most mineral-rich grains available today. Minerals like magnesium, zinc, potassium, and selenium are vital to efficient cognitive function and memory. In fact, a 2009 study conducted by the University of Indiana indicated that elderly persons with low selenium levels had the cognitive functioning levels of someone 10 years older.
What it has: Brown rice contains many brain-benefiting vitamins, including vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Brain-boosting benefit: The minerals contained in brown rice are proven memory-boosters.
What it has: Wheat germ contains high levels of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B6, folate, other B vitamins, selenium, manganese, and magnesium.
Brain-boosting benefit: Wheat germ is the surprising powerhouse of cognitive function. One serving of wheat germ will provide 130 percent of recommended selenium levels, 94 percent of zinc levels, 765 percent of manganese levels, and 144 percent of thiamin levels (vitamin B1). These ingredients are vital to restoring efficient memory and brain function.
Your brain cannot function without protein, but the right sources of protein will provided even bigger benefits. Whether you are vegetarian or eat meat with ease, these sources of protein offer the most benefit for the brain:
What it has: Hazelnuts are eaten less in the United States, and that is a shame, because the nut offers many memory-improving ingredients. Hazelnuts offer brain-benefiting ingredients including vitamin E, essential fatty acids, folate, fiber, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and potassium.
Brain boosting benefit: According to Web MD, the biggest brain benefit of hazelnuts is the high concentration of vitamin E. Hazelnuts provide 100 percent of the recommended daily intake value for vitamin E in one 100 g serving. Vitamin E is responsible for preventing cognitive decline due to aging.
What it has: Almonds are another healthy source of protein that is extremely beneficial for the brain. Almonds contain vitamin E like hazelnuts, but they also contain other essential nutrients, including B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Brain boosting benefit: The vitamin cocktail that almonds offer are beneficial to memory on many levels.
What it has: Salmon is known as the “brain fish.” Why is salmon the brain fish? Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are responsible for boosting cognitive function.
Brain boosting benefit: According to a study from Rush University Medical Center, men and women who ate salmon and other fatty fish (sardines and mackerel) had memories that equaled that of individuals who were three years younger. If you don’t want to eat fish, fish oil supplements provide the same benefit.
What it has: Eggs were the villain of the health industry for a while, due to their high concentration of cholesterol. However, now that scientists understand more about the role of cholesterol (only 25 percent of your cholesterol levels come from diet), eggs are once again on the “to eat” list. Eggs contain many essential nutrients, including protein, vitamin D (in some eggs), omega-3s (in some eggs), and choline.
Brain boosting benefit: The biggest brain-benefiting ingredient of eggs is choline. A 2011 study conducted by Boston University School of Medicine looked at over 1,400 adults over a span of 10 years. Participants who ate a high concentration of choline had better memory retention and were less likely to acquire brain changes that lead to dementia.
What it has: Beans are an excellent source of protein and provide much of the protein in vegetarian diets. Beans contain many beneficial ingredients, including vitamin C, folate, omega-3s, and B vitamins.
Brain boosting benefit: The high concentration of omega-3s in beans (311 mg per serving of kidney beans), makes them an excellent source of the memory-boosting fatty acid. The other vitamins included in beans don’t hurt either.
Of course vegetables are good for your brain, but do you know which vegetables provide the biggest memory benefits? The following vegetables are brain-boosting powerhouses and will keep your brain as sharp as a tack for many years to come.
What it has: Broccoli is the favorite vegetable of parents everywhere. As a child, adults were always telling you to eat your broccoli. It turns out, if you want to protect your memory, broccoli is an excellent food. Broccoli contains extremely high levels of vitamin K, vitamin C, and even omega-3 fatty acids.
Brain boosting benefit: A study conducted by Harvard Medical School of over 13,000 women over a period of 25 years showed that women eating leafy greens like broccoli had better memory retention over women who ate fewer leafy greens.
What it has: Inside every serving of spinach you will find ingredients like vitamin A, folate, vitamin K, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Brain boosting benefit: Each serving of spinach contains 181 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin K. Vitamin K is a brain-boosting vitamin that receives little attention in the memory market. However, a study conducted by the University of Montreal published in October, 2013 indicated that high vitamin K levels improves episodic memory (the ability to recall information in the right space-time context).
What it has: What can an avocado do for your brain? According to Web MD, a lot. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which promotes healthy blood flow. Avocados also can lower blood pressure.
Brain boosting benefit: The improvement of blood flow and the lowering of blood pressure can contribute to better memory. High blood pressure is associated with decreased cognitive function. Basically, a brain that can breathe is a brain that can think.
It’s lucky that fruit is so good for you, because fruits are so delicious. These fruits provide some of the best memory-functioning benefits of all the fruits in the world.
What it has: Plums are an amazing fruit that offers many benefits to the eater. Plums are full of antioxidants. The University of Harvard Health suggests that antioxidants may be able to slow the development of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases. Plums also contain anthocyanin and quercetin, beneficial for preventing brain cell-breakdown.
Brain boosting benefit: Anthocyanin and quercetin are two of the best phytochemicals for preventing brain cell loss in the brain due to ageing.
What it has: Grapes, like plums, contain antioxidants, anthocyanin and quercetin.
Brain boosting benefit: Grapes contain high concentrations of anthocyanin and quercetin, as well as antioxidants. Dark grapes (red or purple), contain more of these ingredients than yellow or green grapes.
What it has: What beneficial ingredients do blueberries have? Quite a lot, in fact. Blueberries contain high levels of vitamin K, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids. Blueberries are also one of the biggest natural sources of antioxidants available on the planet.
Brain boosting benefit: The high level of vitamin K in blueberries make them the perfect brain food.
Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products can provide a nutritions brain-building boost that will keep your memory going strong for decades to come.
What it has: Can eating dairy products improve your memory? New research suggests that it can. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt contain vitamin D, magnesium, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Brain boosting benefit: According to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Maine, individuals who consumed dairy products 5-6 times a week preformed better on memory tests than individuals who did not consume dairy as often. In fact, individuals who did not consume dairy products regularly (fewer than twice a week), were five times as likely to fail simple memory tests.
Can fat and oil provide benefit to the brain? Absolutely! In fact, many vitamins cannot be absorbed by the body without the presence of fat. However, the right kinds of fat are extremely important. Good fats will improve your memory, while bad facts will impair cognitive function. These healthy fats will benefit your brain and every other function of your body:
What it has: Coconut oil is the current darling of the health food industry. Why? Because it offers many benefits over other oils. Unlike many other oils, coconut oil has a high oxidation point, meaning you can safely cook with it. Coconut oil also contains many beneficial ingredients, including vitamin E and saturated fat.
Brain boosting benefit: But wait, isn’t saturated fat bad for the brain? According to an study examining the effects of the ketogenic diet (high fat, low carb) on patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the answer is no. Alzheimer’s patients put on a ketogenic diet (with a variety of fats from both vegetable and animal sources) showed improved memory function.
What it has: Olive oil is a surprisingly healthy oil filled with beneficial ingredients (just make sure your source is pure. Many commercial oils are adulterated with cheap oils like corn and soy). Olive oil contains high levels of vitamin K, vitamin E, and monounsaturated fat.
Brain boosting benefit: How can olive oil help your brain? According to a 2012 study conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital that looked at the cognitive function of over 6,000 women, women who ate a diet including monounsaturated fat levels above fat levels from other sources performed the best on memory tests. Vitamin E and K are also extremely beneficial for the brain.
Many spices and herbs can help improve memory and cognitive function. In addition to eating brain-boosting foods, add these herbs and spices to your diet by cooking with them or taking them in supplement or tea form.
What it has: Green tea is known for its antioxidant properties, but one of the antioxidants in green tea may also benefit the brain. Green tea contains EGCG (epigallocatechin-3 gallate), which was shown in one study to benefit cognitive function.
Brain boosting benefit: A 2013 study conducted by Third Military Medical University in China studied the effects of EGCG on the brain. The researchers found that EGCG promotes the creation of neural progenitor cells (similar to stem cells), that can turn into a variety of cells. The researchers compared the memory function of mice taking ECGC supplements with control mice. The study found that mice with EGCG supplements had better memory and spatial awareness than the control mice.
What it has: Turmeric is a spice used often in Indian and Asian cooking. But this yellow spice is not only good for adding flavor, but can also benefit the mind. Turmeric contains the ingredient curcumin, which is responsible for boosting brain function.
Brain boosting benefit: A 2008 study conducted by the Department of Neurology in California studied the effects of curcumin supplementation on Alzheimer’s patients. The study found that supplementing with curcumin helped patients restore some memory function.
What it has: Ginger is a spicy compliment to many dishes from sweets to stir-fry. Ginger is stimulating for both the blood and memory.
Brain boosting benefit: A 2012 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the results of ginger supplementation in 60 women. Women were given either 400 mg of ginger, 800 mg of ginger, or a placebo for two months. The women were then given a variety of memory tests. Women who supplemented with the highest levels of ginger performed best on the memory tests.
What it has: Ginkgo biloba offers many brain-boosting benefits, by stimulating circulation in the brain.
Brain-boosting benefit: According to Web MD, some studies have indicated that ginkgo biloba is helpful in restoring memory function in the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
What is has: Bacopa monnieri is a leaf extract of an Indian plant and is one of the most essential supplements in Indian Ayurvedic medicine.
Brain-boosting benefit: According to Web MD, studies have indicated that Bacopa is effective at improving cognitive function. A 2008 study conducted by Southern Cross University in Australia studied 81 persons supplementing with bacopa monnieri. According to the study, individuals supplementing with 300 mg of bacopa per day showed improved memory acquisition and verbal learning.
What it has: Acetyl-l-carnitine is an accelerated form of a substance naturally made in liver and kidneys to support energy. It also contains antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the brain, which can lead to memory loss.
Brain-boosting benefit: This amino acid can help restore proper memory function, according to some studies, Web MD reports. The biggest benefit of this amino acid supplement is in preventing memory decline and in sudden onset Alzheimer's.
What it has: Hyperzine A is a naturally-occuring alkaloid. It is a botanical extract traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat blood disorders, swelling, fever, and memory.
Brain-boosting benefit: The supplement Huperzine A is as effective as treating Alzheimer's as most conventional medications, Web MD reports. This mossy substance is beneficial for promoting memory function and brain circulation.
If you eat a wide variety of brain-boosting foods, you shouldn’t have to worry about cognitive decline. You are what you eat, and if you eat brain-boosting foods, you should have a long and detailed memory for decades to come. The best way to protect your brain is by eating memory-boosting foods and supplementing any gaps in your diet with memory-boosting supplements. When you follow this strategy, you will soon start to see positive effects on your memory. You may even be able to remember where you last set your keys.
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