Boosting brain power – no drugs required
Yes, brain foods are for real
And that’s just one study. Many others, revealed below, support the long-held assumption that, when it comes to your mind, you are what you eat.
Brainpower from nuts
Fruits and vegetables that boost brainpower
According to the Center for Longevity of the Brain, your best bet to boost your brain with veggies is to zero in on collard greens, broccoli, beets, kale, red bell peppers, soybeans, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, and definitely the darker green lettuces. A Harvard study revealed that women who eat a high amount of leafy green and cruciferous vegetables had a significantly reduced rate of cognitive decline when compared to women who ate very few of these greens. Spinach in particular is considered a super-food for the brain since it is jam-packed with magnesium and the carotenoid lutein, which, studies show, protects against cognitive decline.
Big on fruits? Good! Because many of them fall into the brainfood category, such as raisins, oranges, cherries, red grapes, plums, and definitely berries: blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are all brain-enhancing foods.
Blueberries in particular have long been identified in studies as improving brain health, largely because they have the highest amounts of disease-fighting antioxidants compared to nearly all other fruits and vegetables.
- A recent study touts a diet high in blueberries and strawberries as an effective way to slow mental decline, including focus and memory.
- A 2008 study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry supports this, stating that compounds in blueberries may decrease the progression of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease by (a.) minimizing the common oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain that comes with aging and (b.) by improving brain cell intercommunication.
More evidence mounts that blueberries can not only prevent but can even reverse age-related memory decline. Researchers at the University of Reading in Pennsylvania found that animals treated with blueberries showed an 83 percent improvement on memory tests within just three weeks, and maintained that improvement throughout the 12-week study.
In another study, elderly rats given blueberry extracts showed improved balance and coordination, as well as general brain function and memory, likely because of the flavonoids in blueberries, which successfully cross the blood-brain barrier, exerting powerful anti-inflammatory action in the brain that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases.
As a result of the growing body of evidence, many experts speculate that the flavonoids in berries may even stimulate the growth of new brain cells. Other fruits that boost brain power include:
- Avocados, which contain the highest omega-3 content of all fruits and are packed of monounsaturated fats that improve vascular health and blood flow,
- Beets, known to improve blood flow to the brain because of their naturally-occurring nitrates.
Meats and fish can feed the brain
- Dopamine (nervous system function)
- Norepinephrine (alertness and concentration)
- Serotonin (sleep, mood, memory, and learning enhancer)
- Acetylcholine (storing memories and memory recall)
- Tyrosine (energy)
Fish is also capable of slowing cognitive decline. One study showed older people who eat fish once a week slowed cognitive decline by nearly 10 percent.
Eggs too: nutritionists often describe the whole egg as a perfect food due to its amino acid profile, especially when sourced from free-range chickens eating a natural diet.
Celebrate Brain Awareness Week with food!