5 foods to boost your brain power
A high intake of fruits, veggies and healthy fats reduces your risk of stroke and can improve your memory
Raquel Rivas Published: 12/18/2017
Is your brain getting the food it needs?
Regardless of your age, there are some foods that will invigorate your brain and protect your memory and cognitive abilities. The health of your brain, like the health of your body, can get a boost from eating the right foods.
Go ahead. Have some piece(s) of mind:
- Blueberries and grapes. A Tufts University study suggested that blueberries can delay memory loss. You can also eat fruits that are dark red and purple (grapes), which contain the same protective compounds, called anthocyanins. They are also rich in polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that can protect your brain.
- Beans and chickpeas. They have vitamin B, magnesium, and protein – ingredients that help your body make healthy red blood cells and healthy neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are how your brain cells talk to each other.
- Green leafy vegetables. From swiss chard to spinach, dark leafy greens can boost your brain health. Mix them with broccoli and other vegetables to add color, flavor and more brain-protecting antioxidants.
- Sweet potatoes. Their beautiful color comes from beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. This vitamin helped study participants improve their verbal memory and perform better in cognitive tests. Sweet potatoes also contain anthocyanins -- antioxidants that can protect your brain.
- Healthy fats. The goal is to avoid trans fats and add more oily fish. Good fats, like essential fatty acids and omega-3 in oily fish build brain cells, reduce brain inflammation and can improve your mood and memory. (They also protect your heart.) However, they are not made by our bodies; we get them from oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. Plant sources are flaxseed, soy beans, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
Remember: what is good for your heart is also good for your brain. Reducing your risk of heart disease can also reduce your risk of stroke and protect the health of your brain.
A high intake of fruits and vegetables has been shown to have a beneficial cascade effect. What’s a high intake? Eat five to nine servings (1/2 cup fruit or vegetables or 1 cup leafy greens) daily. The higher your fruit and veggies intake, the lower your risk. Aim for fruits and vegetables that are high in folic acid, potassium and antioxidants.
For maximum benefit, limit sodium and alcohol. Also, consider boosting potassium: It can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements.