1. Oily fish (wild salmon, mackerel, sardines)
More than half of brain mass is made up of lipids, and over 65% of these are fatty acids that belong to the well-known Omega family. These fats are vital to the production and development of brain cells, maintaining the fluidity of cell membrane. They also play a huge role in neuron activity. Oil-rich fish like wild salmon, fresh tuna and sardines contain Omega 3 fats that help your brain cells interrelation to each other. As a rule, try to eat at least two portions of oil-rich fish a week. Note: while fresh fish contains Omega 3 fatties, tinned one does not. In addition, fish contains phosphorus and iodine– both important elements for brain work.
2. Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
The American and Australian scientists measured I.Q. of 972 volunteers and came to a conclusion that those participants of experiment, who daily used dairy products, were tested on logical thinking and memory much more successfully, than those who neglected yogurts and cheese. Fatty dairy products are especially useful as our brain more than half consists of fat. The lack of crucial fats can become the reason of various unpleasant diseases, for example multiple sclerosis. What is more, protein, calcium, vitamin D and magnesium found in dairy products, play important role in stimulation of brain activity.
3. Liver (chicken, veal or beef)
The brain accounts for around 25% of the body’s oxygen needs. Iron is required to get oxygen to the brain by means of the blood’s hemoglobin. Liver is one of the diet’s assets guaranteed to contain this metal. Additionally, liver is one of the most important sources of Vitamin B. Since the mid 1990s, it has been known that these vitamins, mainly B1, B6, B9 and B12, improve cognitive function and the results of intelligence tests.
4. Whole grains
Fiber-rich whole grains are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. It is also loaded with vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts, wine and olive oil. Resent research shows that this diet may be linked to lower risk of the mild cognitive impairment that can progress to degenerative diseases. Generally people do not eat nutrients or foods in isolation; they eat in combination with other foods so there is value in dietary patterns. This type of diet can reduce oxidative stress, inflammation and other vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure. All of that may have a role in increasing risk for brain malfunction and diseases. Since the body breaks down the carbohydrates in whole-grain oats very slowly, they help to keep you sharp for long hours.
A good vegetarian source of iron is egg yolk. Eggs contain phospholipids and lecithin, integral to build up membrane of brain cell. In terms of boosting intellect, their value lies mainly in their proteins. Long used as points of reference when analyzing the quality of other dietary proteins, eggs are actually rich in amino acids, vital in the production of the principal neurotransmitters. A synthesis made from serine and methionine are used in the process of memorization, where noradrenalin, stimulating learning, and its production rely on the presence of tyrosine and phenylalanine, which are again found in eggs’ proteins.
There’s science to back up your mom’s advice to eat your spinach. Studies show that people who take in more vitamin C perform better in tests for attention, recall and memory. Experts suggest eating at least 5 portions of vegetables and/or fruit a day, but the key is to eat a variety. When picking veggies, go for a rainbow colors, not only because they look great, but because this is a proof to the beneficial nutrients they have inside. All leafy vegetables share richness in Vitamin B9 or folates, which is thought to play an active role in the development of a fetus’ nervous tissue and also in the renewal of blood cells. If spinach is not to your taste, go for lamb’s lettuce, watercress, broccoli, iceberg lettuce or different types of herbs. Among these veggies rosemary is worth noting as it has certain flavonoids notably apigenin in its aroma that has stimulating properties affecting memory and concentration through encouraging cerebral blood flow.
To keep blood sugar levels stable and the brain supplied with fuel, aim to eat at least two portions of pulses a day. The brain is said to be dependent on glucose. It means brain uses only glucose for fuel. Our brain consumes more than five grams an hour, but does not know how to store it. That is why brain has to be regularly supplied by glucose via the circulatory system. The most difficult task within intellectual performance- the capacity to memorize- depends on the blood level of glucose. The complex sugars and those, which have a low glycaemic Index, are crucial. Pulses are full of these complex sugars, and their glycemic index is one of the lowest. It really allows the regulation of glucose in the blood and supplies the brain without creating a reaction of hyperglycemia.
The food you eat directly affects performance of your brain. By eating shellfish you will be able to improve your mood and keep your mind active. Though rich in protein and Vitamin B12 it is mostly the oligo elements in crustaceans and seafood that are good for brain function. These elements are crucial for fighting and preventing stress and its inconveniences. Oligo elements can be considered as therapeutic weapons since they have a hand in mental fatigue fighting, anxiety and nervous weakness. Copper, manganese, zinc, lithium and iodine have the same effect and can be found in seafood as well.
9. Red berries
When picking fruit, red berries are the perfect choice. Research studies on blueberry consumption suggest that a large part of cognitive benefits is most likely due to nerve cell protection from oxygen damage by vast array of antioxidant nutrients found in berries. Nerve cells have a naturally high risk of oxygen damage and they need special antioxidant protection at any time in life. Their ability to send impulses throughout the body depends on the balanced oxygen metabolism, and this balance cannot be achieved without taking simply antioxidant nutrients. By decreasing the risk of oxidative stress in the nerve cells, blueberries help to maintain healthy cognitive function and smoothly working nerve cells. All edible berries are veritable mines of Vitamin C (blackcurrants have three times as much concentration in Vitamin C as kiwi fruit, and twice as much as citruses). They have antioxidant micronutrients that make up their color. Together, they not only strengthen blood capillaries and improve circulation, which enable the best oxygenation of the brain, but also fight against free radicals which can affect nerve cells, especially brain cells.
Perfectly sweet with firm and creamy flesh, banana comes packaged in its own yellow jacket and is available for anyone throughout the year. Rich in magnesium, essential mineral in the transmission of nervous impulses, bananas are a source of Vitamin B6 (one holds practically a quarter of the recommended daily amount). B6 vitamin is not only involved in the assimilation of magnesium, but also in the metabolism of amino acids and the functioning of the nervous system through producing certain neurotransmitters, notably gamma amino butyric acid and serotonin. Both of them create the right state of mind for prudent, calm and measured behavior.
Avocado is almost as good as blueberry in promoting brain health. It is true, that avocado is a fatty fruit, but, it is a monounsaturated fat that contributes to healthy blood flow. And healthy blood flow leads to a healthy brain. Avocados also lower blood pressure and since hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure will promote healthy brain. The avocado is surprisingly rich in Vitamin E. This vitamin occurs to be one of the most powerful antioxidant and protects brain’s fatty tissues from ageing. Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants, beta carotene and lycopene, increases significantly when fresh avocado or avocado oil is added to any avocado-free salad. However, avocados are high in calories, so experts suggest adding just 1/2 or 1/4 of an avocado to a daily meal as a side dish.
12. Nuts and seeds
Walnuts even look like tinny brains, so maybe that is Mother Nature’s way of telling what walnuts are beneficial for. Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E. Several studies suggest that a proper intake of vitamin E can help to prevent cognitive decline, particularly in the early age. Add one ounce a day of hazelnuts, walnuts, filberts, Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seed, and not hydrogenated nut butters such as almond butter, peanut butter or tahini. Roasted or raw, it does not matter. Just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing thinking skills and memory. Research shows regular consumption of niacin-rich foods such as peanuts provides protection against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. People getting the most niacin from peanuts-20 mg per day- are 74% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those consuming about 12 mg daily, and the rate of their age-related cognitive decline is significantly less. An easy way to boost your niacin intake is to snack on a handful of peanuts (just a quarter cup provides about a quarter of the daily recommended intake for niacin which is 15 mg per day for men and 13 for women).The peanut is a source of vitamin E which is an antioxidant protecting nervous membranes in the brain. Besides this, vitamin E prevents formation of blood clots, and promotes improved breath of brain cells.
13. Dark chocolate
Harvard researchers recently conducted a small study that suggests a link between dark chocolate and brain function. The research team studied the effects of cocoa . In 60 people between 67 and 77 years old by having them drink hot cocoa twice a day for a month. Study author and assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School Farzaneh Sorond told ABC News that the chocolate appeared to increase the brain’s blood supply, providing it with more fuel for the work that it does.