OILY FISH like salmon and tuna aren’t only good for your heart — they’re rich in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is incredibly important for the normal functioning of neurons in the brain. Studies have shown that increasing your DHA intake can boost the function of your memory by a whopping 15 percent! Long-term studies have also shown that people who eat oily fish at least once a week have a significantly lower risk of developing dementia and other memory conditions as they age.
BERRIES — especially blueberries — are high in antioxidants that protect the brain and body from oxidative stress, and may reduce the affects of age-related mental conditions like dementia. Diets rich in blueberries significantly improve not only your learning capacity, but also your motor skills, making them a great food to help advance your training. One study from Tufts University has even shown that blueberries have reversed nerve cell damage in rats, increasing their short-term memory and improving their balance and coordination.
AVOCADOS are high in monounsaturated fats that promote healthy blood flow and lower your blood pressure — both attributes that are fantastic for your brain, which relies on the oxygen in your blood. Monounsaturated fatty acids also help to protect the nerve cells in your brain, increasing your memory and motor skills. But that’s not all: avocadoes are high in vitamins E and C, which may reduce the risk of certain types of dementia.
NUTS AND SEEDS are great for maintaining a healthy memory, and are perfect if you’re looking for a study snack or something to nibble on between meals. But not all nuts are created equal. Almonds and hazelnuts are high in vitamin E, which may slow down memory loss, where walnuts have a high concentration of DHA, which may increase your cognitive performance, and peanuts contain niacin, which has been associated with preventing cognitive decline. Similarly, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are a source of tryptophan to keep your mind happy, while flax seeds are a great source of omega-3s, which may improve your memory.
DARK GREEN, LEAFY VEGGIES like broccoli, spinach and kale are all great sources of vitamin E and folate. Folate assists in the breakdown of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been thought to contribute to the destruction of nerve cells in the brain. Broccoli is a particularly wonderful vegetable as it’s also high in choline, which may improve your memory.
FRESHLY BREWED TEA contains moderate amounts of caffeine that can improve your focus and concentration. It’s also a good source of catechin, an antioxidant that promotes healthy blood flow. The water in your tea will also help prevent you from becoming dehydrated, which can lead to poor concentration.
DARK CHOCOLATE doesn’t just have great antioxidant properties and caffeine for mental stimulation. Researchers at the University of L’Aquila in Italy found that older people with some cognitive decline showed improvement when they consumed cocoa with moderate or high levels of flavanols. Cocoa also regulates blood flow to the brain and stimulates the production of endorphins to keep you positive. Just make sure you steer clear of chocolate high in sugar, as it can cause a sugar high followed by rapid mental fatigue.
RED KALE AND RED CABBAGE contain mammoth amounts of the purple color molecule anthocyanin, which also happens to be a super-charged antioxidant. With dementia and Alzheimer’s disease being newly exposed as forms of long-term brain damage due to inflammation and oxidative stress, the powerful anthocyanins may prevent this damage from happening, and may also protect the myelin sheath surrounding neural pathways so brain transmission is faster and stronger. In other words, science believes that the anthocyanin found in red kale and red cabbage could prevent Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other neurological diseases, and help you to think faster and smarter.
BEETROOT JUICE contains the reddish pigment betalain, which research by the College of Life Sciences, Shandong University of Technology, suggests is neuroprotective, possibly shielding the brain from neural decline associated with aging and stress. The same study also showed that red color compounds were also more active as antioxidants on brain tissue than Vitamin C.
COCONUT OIL can be considered a “good fat.” Your brain weighs around 3 pounds and is 60 percent fat! It’s one of the fattiest organs in the body. This is one of the main reasons why the quality of fats we ingest, whether they are “good fats” or “bad fats,” have a colossal impact on how our brain functions, and even how we feel. Dr. Beverly Teter from the University of Maryland, an expert in the field of dietary fat, confirmed that “not only does coconut oil improve cholesterol levels, but it also helps the brains of some Alzheimer’s patients and can even be extended to people with Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, dementia, even schizophrenia and autism.