Health - Diet & Nutrition
By: - at August 7, 2013

15 Best Foods For Brain Health

Like it or not, the foods you consume will either have a positive or negative effect on your body. With so many different types of chemically induced foods, it can be hard to make the right choice in regards to eating healthy. There are, however, many different foods that will support and improve the health of your brain. In most cases, these foods can be easily found and incorporated into your favorite meals on a daily basis. All it takes is a little ingenuity and resistance against the temptation of foods that are unhealthy for you.


15)  Apples
As the saying goes, eating an apple a day will keep the doctor away. What you may not realize is that this statement actually has a grain of truth to it. By eating apples on a regular basis, you can protect your brain from oxidative damage that can cause neurodegenerative diseases. The neurodegenerative diseases that you can be at risk for include Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Quercetin, which is a phytonutrient found in apples, acts as a shield against such diseases.

apple orchard

Apples can be found in virtually any market and are easy to incorporate into your everyday diet. You can eat an apple as a snack, or you can use them to create a unique dish. According to the Endless Simmer website, there are about 100 ways to use apples in the dishes that you create for yourself. Some of the top dishes that incorporate this powerful food include shredded beef sliders with carrot apple slaw, baked apple casserole, apple and prosciutto flatbread pizza, and a grilled brie and apple sandwich. Though these particular dishes make good use of apples, it is important to remember that some of the nutrients that can be found in apples are lost during the cooking process. To receive the maximum amount of nutrients from an apple, you should stick with eating them raw.


14)  Asparagus
The vegetable asparagus contains high levels of folic acid. Folic acid helps promote a faster metabolism for the long chain fatty acids inside of your brain. In addition to these attributes, asparagus also contains dietary fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins A, E, and K. This vegetable can be found and sold fresh in the spring time and is native to areas in Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa.

grilled asparagus

In most cases, asparagus is served as an appetizer or side dish. It is found throughout Asian cuisines and is often served as a part of stir fry. However, there are many different ways you can successfully showcase asparagus in a way that does not drain all of its nutrients. Popular dishes that contain asparagus include garlic-roasted asparagus, garlic asparagus flatbread, grilled asparagus soup, and fresh asparagus ribbon salad. Each of these dishes are healthy and act as a great way to incorporate asparagus and the nutrients that they provide into your every-day diet.


13)  Berries
Almost every berry contains antioxidants that decrease the risk of oxidative stress. Berries are also known to contain anti-inflammatory agents which will help to fight against brain aging. By increasing your intake of berries you are helping to ensure that your brain cell membranes stay youthful and flexible. Though berries are seasonal, you can still find them throughout the year. In most cases, you can substitute fresh frozen berries if you cannot find fresh berries at your local market.

mixed berries blueberries strawberries blackberries raspberries

There are many types of berries to choose from. Some types include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, boysenberries, marionberries, acai berries, huckleberries, and ollaliberries. Because there are so many different types, your options for incorporating them into your everyday life are endless. Like most fruits, the best way to get the largest amount of nutrients from berries is to eat them raw. However, if you do not like to eat them raw, you can always incorporate them into one of the dishes that you have throughout the day. Some of my favorite dishes that incorporate berries include blueberry summer salad, fruit and mozzarella salad, spicy grilled pork with blackberry sauce, double berry jam, along with spinach and strawberry salad.


12)  Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate doesn't have to be your dirty little secret anymore or a snack you sneak out in the middle of the night. Instead, dark chocolate is a powerful brain food that can be appreciated by almost everyone. This tasty treat offers powerful antioxidants and natural stimulants that will increase the presence of endorphins, which help make you feel good. It also decreases the risk of having a stroke. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help to remove radicals that can cause damage to your brain cells. Before going crazy with the chocolate, though, you should make sure that your dark chocolate has at least 70 percent cacao so that you can also get the added heart benefits.

dark chocolate

Though you probably won’t mind eating dark chocolate in the raw, you have to make sure that it doesn't have more than 10 grams of sugar so that you can gain the optimal benefits from it. Fortunately, there are many healthy ways to incorporate dark chocolate into your diet. According to the Better Homes website, popular dark chocolate recipes that are healthy for you include chocolate-filled lemon meringues, saucy chicken with garbanzo beans, orange and dark chocolate salad, and chocolate accordion bread. Each of these recipes uses dark chocolate that has less than 10 grams of sugar per serving and contain 70 percent cacao or higher. And, of course, moderation is key – so you'll still have to limit those late night trips to the refrigerator.


11)  Salmon
Salmon is another food that provides extra benefits for your brain. Salmon contains omega-3, iron, protein, and vitamin B. Each of these components will help to improve your focus, memory, reasoning, and recall. The omega-3 acids also help reduce the risk of blood clots, which can drastically reduce the chance of having a stroke. Salmon also contains amino acids, selenium, and vitamins A and D, which causes salmon to act as a natural anti-depressant.

grilled salmon

Salmon is a relatively easy fish to come by and can be found in almost any market place. While you can eat salmon raw, many people choose to cook it. Some of the most popular cooked salmon dishes include salmon and ravioli, salmon burgers, smoked salmon and apple supper salad, and ancho glazed salmon. Popular raw salmon dishes include raw spicy salmon salad, salmon sushi, and salmon sashimi with ginger. If you choose to try out one of the raw salmon recipes, then you need to make sure to use proper handling and preparation techniques to avoid getting sick.


10)  Dried Oregano
There are many different health benefits to using dried oregano in your cooking. Dried oregano offers 40 times more antioxidants than what is found in an apple. This herb is rich in vitamin K, rosmarinic, iron, manganese, fiber, thymol, and carvacrol. Each of these properties work together to make dried oregano one of the most powerful brain foods. This herb is easily accessible at almost every market place. If you have an aptitude for growing herbs, oregano is quite simple to maintain so it is easy to have a fresh supply for your cooking needs.

dried oregano herbs

In addition to being a powerful brain food, dried oregano is easy to incorporate into your daily meals. Popular dishes that call for dried oregano include pastas, fruit salads, chicken, fish, beef, pork, and bread. It can be used to season and flavor almost every type of food, which is why it is popular in many different cultures around the world.





9)  Walnuts
Walnuts provide you with vitamin E, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids. Each of these properties will help you to obtain healthy neural tissue. Eating seven walnuts every day will provide you with two times the amount of daily antioxidants your body requires. Walnuts are often used in vegetarian cuisine to replace meats. In addition to being a powerful brain food, walnuts have been linked to reducing the risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and gallstones. The antioxidants that can be found in walnuts are 15 times more potent than vitamin E, which is known to protect the body against damaging chemicals that can cause disease.

walnuts

There are many different ways to include walnuts in your daily diet. Eating walnuts raw with the peel still attached will provide you with the most health benefits. However, walnuts can also be used as an ingredient that can help to improve any dish. The most common ways to cook with walnuts are to use it as a meat substitute, create a dessert with it, or use it as a topping that will complement your favorite dishes. Popular walnut desserts include vanilla bean flan with caramelized walnuts, gingersnap- walnut cookies, and candied walnuts. Popular vegan and vegetarian walnut recipes include tofu walnut meatballs, vegan walnut mushroom pate, and walnut loaf. Popular side dishes that use walnuts include blue cheese-walnut green beans and orange-walnut chicken salad.


8)  Whole Grains
Whole grains are great for your brain and overall health because they are packed with fiber and vitamin E. The fiber and vitamin E helps improve your cardiovascular health. When your cardiovascular health is improved, the circulation to your brain increases significantly. Whole grains will also reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Consuming at least two and a half servings of whole grains will provide these health benefits to you.

whole grains rolled oats

There are many ways you can get your intake of whole grains on a daily basis. Rice, breads, and oats are only some of the different forms of whole grains that can be eaten. Some of the healthiest whole grain dishes include brown rice and tofu maki, sugar snap peas and barley salad, herb and lemon Bulgar pilaf, and spring chicken and barley soup. Though whole grains are very healthy for you, it is important that you do not overdo it with the amount that you consume each day. Like everything in life, it is important to exert control and eat in moderation.


7)  Yogurt
Yogurt isn't just a great snack; it also offers many health benefits. One of the main health benefits of yogurt is that it provides you with the protein and vitamin B that is essential in improving communication between your brain cells. The high levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium are also helpful to improving your cardiovascular system, which, in turn, improves circulation to your brain. These benefits can also help you to perform better on a daily basis and to perform your daily tasks more efficiently.

yogurt with berries

There are many different types of yogurt, which makes it easier to incorporate it into your daily meals. Yogurt can be eaten on its own, with fruit, turned into a sauce, and even incorporated into desserts. According to the Eating Well website, popular dishes that use yogurt include spicy yogurt chicken, roasted garlic potato salad, Greek yogurt cheesecake, and Tutti-Frutti Muesli. It is recommended that you consume at least three servings every day to experience the maximum benefits of yogurt. Almost every market place offers a variety of yogurts. What’s more is that most yogurts can be found in containers that make it easy to track your daily intake and increase portability.


6)  Bananas
One banana a day will provide you with the daily amount of glucose that your brain needs to continue to function properly. Bananas also include a large dose of tryptophan, which converts itself into serotonin. When serotonin is produced, you become happier and your risk for depression becomes lower. Bananas also help you to stay more alert throughout the day. By adding just one banana to your menu every day, you can experience some of the great benefits that this tropical fruit offers. Luckily, bananas are easy to come by and can be found in almost every market.

bananas

While it is recommended that you eat a banana in its raw form, you can also receive some of the benefits by incorporating them into your other meals throughout the day. You can include bananas in your meals by adding them to desserts and making them into bread. Many people choose to cut up their daily banana and add it to their cereal or yogurt. Popular banana recipes include fat free banana-walnut bread, peanut butter breakfast pudding, banana oatmeal squares, and dark chocolate frozen bananas. Each of these dishes take this healthy fruit and presents it in a way that even the pickiest eater can appreciate.


5)  Eggs
Eggs aren't just tasty to eat, they're actually pretty good for your body, too. One of the top benefits that come from eating eggs is that it will provide you with a good amount of choline. The presence of choline is desirable because it helps improve your memory and reflexes. Choline will also help improve your nervous and cardiovascular systems, which means that your risk of heart attacks, clots, and strokes becomes greatly reduced. The University of Harvard's website recommends that you limit your egg intake to about two every day to avoid issues with high cholesterol. Since eggs are a diverse food, there are many different ways you can prepare them in a meal. Poached, scrambled, fried, omelet, and baked are all different ways that eggs can be prepared. Eggs are also used in breads, cakes, and other foods as an agent that will hold all of the ingredients together. According to the Cooking Light website, some of the most popular egg dishes include huevos rancheros, shrimp and bacon deviled eggs, simple baked eggs, and egg salad sandwiches. Each of these recipes can help to further stimulate your brain because they also include other powerful brain foods like walnuts and whole grains.

eggs


4)  Eggplant
The skin that can be found on an eggplant includes nasunin, which has many benefits for the brain. Nasunin is an anthocyanin phytonutrient that works as an antioxidant and a radical scavenger. Nasunin also works to protect cell membranes from serious damage. To protect the cell brains, nasunin regulates the nutrients that affect cell membranes and pushes all of the wastes out. In addition to a large amount of nasunin, eggplant also contains phenolic antioxidant compounds and will promote cardiovascular health, which in turn keeps your brain healthy. Though there are definite health benefits to eating eggplant, you should keep in mind that this vegetable is of the nightshade family. Foods that are a part of this family should be eaten with caution, since they tend to have adverse reactions for some people.

eggplant

Many people describe eggplant as having a unique taste and texture. You will, therefore, need to be more careful in how you prepare it. Otherwise, you may end up turning your taste buds against this powerful brain vegetable. Some of the most common ways that eggplant is incorporated into a daily menu is by adding it to soup, as a meat substitute, using it as a topping, serving it cooked and seasoned, and even grilling it. Some of the most popular eggplant recipes include eggplant parmesan pizza, grilled eggplant sandwiches, lamb and eggplant kebabs, and shrimp-stuffed eggplant.


3)  Coffee
Coffee isn't just that drink you need to start your day or keep you awake while at work or studying for a big exam. Besides keeping you awake, coffee has many useful benefits. Coffee is known to contain powerful antioxidants than can promote a longer life and an improved neural system. A 2009 study showed that those who drank coffee had a lower chance of developing Alzheimer's and dementia later in life. Another study showed that the mere smell of coffee did wonders for reducing stress levels. Coffee has been proven to enhance your memory and will help to protect you against eyelid spasms. In addition to the benefits to your brain, coffee can also decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, improves your reproductive system, strengthens your muscles, and reduces the risk of oral cancer. It is recommended that you limit your coffee intake to four cups a day.

coffee

Though the obvious method of consuming coffee is to brew and drink it, there are other ways to incorporate it into your menu. If you do not enjoy drinking coffee, you can use it to make healthy desserts, soups, and can even use it into your main courses. Popular recipes that use coffee include smoky black bean soup, chicken with red-eye gravy, coffee cake, and espresso glazed roast pork. Of course, moderation is once again key here. Drinking a pot of coffee isn't considered being "extra healthy."


2)  Green Tea
Green tea offers the largest amount of antioxidant polyphenois out of every tea available to consumers. The most abundant antioxidant that can be found in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG provides many of the health benefits that are found in green tea. According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, people who drink green tea on a regular basis have a lower risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. It has also been shown to minimize any damage to the brain after having a stroke and with helping children with brain tumors to recover. It is recommended to limit your green tea intake to about three cups every day.

green tea

Like coffee, green tea can also be included in your diet by means other than drinking it. Some of the most common ways to include green tea in your daily menu include cake, soup, ice cream, and smoothies. Some of the most common alternative green tea recipes include green tea cake, Matcha green tea smoothies, green tea chocolate truffles, green tea rice soup, and green tea ice cream. Though you may be wary of trying out one of these recipes, they are perfect options for incorporating green tea into your daily diet.


1)  Dark Leafy Greens
You may turn your nose up at them, but there is no denying that dark leafy greens are good for you. Dark leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, phytonutrients and minerals. The amount of iron alone that can be found in dark leafy greens can improve the amount of oxygen that you take in, and it can improve your cognitive control. A 2010 study showed that dark leafy greens can improve blood circulation and can increase energy levels. Additionally, dark leafy greens can improve intestinal health, kidney functions, and can help detoxify your liver.

dark leafy greens

Dark Leafy greens include kale, collards, turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, red and green leaf romaine lettuce, cabbage, and iceberg lettuce. Although eating dark leafy greens in raw form will give you the largest amount of benefits, there are other ways to prepare them, including salads, soups, stews, drinks, and as an ingredient for your main course. Popular recipes that use dark leafy greens include sauteed garlic greens, spinach burgers, kale and potato hash, spinach brownies, roasted kale chips, and Swiss chard Italian wraps. Each of these dishes will provide you with the health benefits of dark leafy greens, but present them in a way that may better suit your taste buds and preferences.


Final Brain Thoughts
Each of these foods can do wonders to promote a healthy brain. Some of the benefits that you can experience by eating these foods include improved blood flow, increased oxygen intake, protection against oxidative damage, healthy neural tissue, and a general improved condition of your brain cells. Some of these foods have also been known to help reduce the risk of depression, Alzheimer's, dementia, cancer, and some types of diabetes. While apples, berries, bananas, and coffee may already be staples in your diet, you should try to incorporate some of these other foods as well. With so many different recipe options available for each food, you shouldn’t have any issues incorporating them into your daily menu.

However, none of these foods does anyone any good if they're not consumed. Therefore, it's important to choose recipes you will actually want to eat. Force feeding yourself any type of food may cause you to limit the types of foods you are willing to try. Have fun with your healthy recipes for these powerful brain foods. With enough creativity and curiosity, you may end up finding out that you actually enjoy the powerful brain foods that you once turned your nose up at.

Though you are encouraged to experiment with these foods, you should also be cautious and watch your intake for some of these foods. Foods such as coffee, eggs, green tea, and bananas can have adverse effects if you are not watchful and careful about the amount you consume. To help you keep track of your daily intake, you may want to consider keeping a daily food diary. And, when in doubt, talk to your doctor about the healthiest foods for your brain.


 

 

 

 

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