By Hana Frenette
What we eat plays a major role in our health, happiness and overall cognitive function.
Personalize your plate with these healthy, delicious foods that have been scientifically proven to nourish and protect your brain while increasing your concentration, aiding in memory creation and giving your brain an overall boost.
Wild-caught salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna and sardines are all packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which aid your brain in building nerve cells and improving memory function. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to slow age-related cognitive decline and ward off diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Blueberries offer both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits from components called anthocyanins and flavonoids. Research shows these natural plant components can help in alleviating stress on the brain that contributes to brain-aging and memory decline. The high levels of antioxidants in blueberries have also been shown to stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which helps to maintain brain function.
Dark Chocolate (85% cocoa or higher)
The medicinal purposes of dark chocolate and cocoa have been touted for centuries, with ancient civilizations using it to treat everything from digestive issues to headaches. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants which lend their anti-inflammatory properties to increase memory and boost your overall mood. Some studies have also shown dark chocolate to help lower blood pressure and reduce sleep loss.
Coffee and Tea
These beverages do more than boost your morning energy levels— both are packed with caffeine and antioxidants, two ingredients linked to better concentration, increased memory and improved mood. Long-term, moderate caffeine consumption has also been linked to reduced risk of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Walnuts, like fatty fish, are a great source of protein and omega-fats, which boost brain development. Walnuts are also rich in antioxidants and support heart health, overall decreased inflammation, lower blood pressure and improved cognitive function. A true superfood!
Leafy green foods like broccoli, spinach, kale, collards and romaine lettuce are filled with Vitamin K and folate, which aid the body in healthy cell production and reducing inflammation. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin and is essential during the brain cell formation process. Research suggests six servings a week, or just one serving a day may yield increased memory function.
Foods to avoid, or eat in moderation:
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, was previously known as dementia pugilistica or “punch-drunk syndrome” for its association with former boxers demonstrating declining ability, memory loss, and lack of coordination. The hallmark risk factor that separates the syndrome from other tauopathies and dementias is repeated trauma to the head, otherwise known as traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs. It’s this repeated trauma where things become an issue for contact sports.