Our brain makes us who we are. It dictates every movement we make, and every decision we take, so it makes sense that we should take care of it. Like all of the organs in our body, we can do this through diet, so what food can we introduce to keep our gray matter in tip-top shape? Below, are five of the most important foods that are known to benefit cognitive health.
1. Oily Fish
Regularly consuming oily fish such as salmon, sardines, or mackerel is the most widely known dietary addition for boosting brain power. The key is in the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, which these types of fish contain in abundance. These fats act by protecting the brain from cellular damage, as well as encouraging the growth of new brain cells. As such, omega-3 is linked to a whole host of cognitive benefits, including improved memory, aiding with depression, and reducing the chances of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
2. Whole Grains
Using whole grain alternatives in your diet has many health benefits, one of which is a boost in brain power. For the brain to maintain optimum performance, it requires a constant flow of glucose. Unlike refined grains, which cause a spike in sugar levels, whole grains take longer to break down and slowly release their sugar content, which is perfect for what your brain needs.
Adding whole grains to your diet is incredibly simple. Wherever you would have had the refined version before, just substitute the whole grain. Most commonly, this means that where you have bread, rice or pasta in your diet, switch to the whole grain or brown varieties.
All dark vegetables assist in brain health, but broccoli is the best of the bunch. It has unusually high concentrations of both vitamin K and choline, which has been shown to increase cognitive ability and memory respectively. Broccoli is also a rich source of folic acid, which is understood to have many benefits, such as reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and combating depression.
Is there anything blueberries aren’t good for? These tasty berries are thought to aid in everything from cardiovascular health to reducing the risk of many forms of cancer, and they have also been shown to benefit brain health as well. The antioxidants that are plentiful within blueberries congregate around the areas of the brain linked to intelligence, resulting in increased cognitive ability, as well as reducing mental problems later in life.
Tomatoes contain large quantities of the carotenoid lycopene, which has been shown to act as a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene is believed to prevent many types of damage within the brain and reduces the likelihood of many forms of dementia. There is a slight benefit to adding cooked tomatoes to your diet, as the cooking allows for easier absorption of the lycopene. However, raw tomatoes still provide a significant health boost, so if you prefer not to cook them, they will still do wonders for your brain power.
As with all dietary plans, the key is balance and variation, coupled with exercise and stress reduction. However, by substituting each of these into your weekly diet, you will hopefully see some benefits in your cognitive ability, and help ward off dementia in your later years. Not only that, each of these foods helps in many other areas of your health to keep you fit and healthy for years to come.