Our brains are powerful machines. They control thought, movement, and sensation, they store a massive amount of data, they regulate thousands of complex functions such as hormone balance, breathing, unconscious activity, and blood flow. This means the brain is constantly working, even when we sleep.
We know that how we eat can affect our bodies, but what we put in our mouths also affects our mood, the brain’s energy, our memory, and even our ability to handle stress, complex problems, or simple daily tasks.
So, what are the best foods for the brain? Let’s find out!
1. Avocado. Our brains are made up of 60% fat and when fat’s level gets low in the body, it can contribute to depression, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. You have to conume good, healthy fats, like those found in avocados (and also in seeds, nuts and coconut). Avocados are a source of monounsaturated fats, omega 3, and omega 6 fatty acids. These increase blood flow to the brain, lower cholesterol, and aid in the absorption of antioxidants.
2. Coconut Oil. Coconut oil contains specific triglycerides that the body uses for energy, leaving glucose for the brain. It also seems to have a beneficial effect on blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Anything that benefits the heart and circulation also benefits the brain. Coconut oil acts as an anti-inflammatory as well and has been linked to helping prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
3. Beans and Legumes. Beans and legumes are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates and fibre that slows absorption, giving us a steady supply of glucose for the brain without the risks of sugar spikes associated with many other sugar sources. Beans and legumes are also rich in folate—a B vitamin critical to brain function—and essential omega fatty acids.
4. Blueberries. These berries are antioxidant powerhouses, protecting the brain from oxidative damage and stress that lead to premature ageing, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. The flavonoids in blueberries also improve the communication between neurons, improving memory, learning, and all cognitive function.
5. Broccoli is rich in calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins, beta-carotene, iron, fiber, and vitamin K. These nutrients protect against free radicals, keep blood flowing well, and remove heavy metals that can damage the brain.
6. Spinach is a good source of folic acid and vitamin C, both of which are needed for production of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is also a source of chlorophyll which helps with the absorption of iron and promotes red blood cell growth, improves oxygen transport around the body and to the brain. Spinach can prevent or delay dementia. The nutrients in spinach slow the effects of ageing on the brain.
7. Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, are extremely good for the brain and nervous system. They are great sources of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. Vitamin E has been shown to prevent many forms of dementia by protecting the brain from free radicals, and it improves brain power.
8. Seeds contain a rich mix of protein, omega fatty acids, and B vitamins. These seeds also contain tryptophan, which the brain converts into serotonin to boost mood and combat depression.
9. Tomatoes – they contain lycopene, a very powerful antioxidant that combats dementia and may improve mood balance too.
10. Whole Grains. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre, and some omega 3 fatty acids that protect the heart and brain from damaging sugar spikes, cholesterol, blood clots, and more.