Food For Thought: Eat For A Healthy Brain

Did you know there are some foods that can maintain a healthy brain? You may already have some of these foods in your kitchen or can easily find them in your grocery store. Here are five of my favorite “healthy brain foods”.

Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Brain Fact: about 60% of your brain is made of fat and half of that is omega-3s. These brain-healthy fats can improve memory and mood AND keep your heart healthy too. To get the brain benefits of fish, you should eat about eight ounces a week. I grill fish—fresh or frozen—and add it to a salad, or I make salmon cakes with canned salmon, which are a healthy, inexpensive alternative to crab cakes.

Blueberries are my go-to fruit. I “u-pick” them in season and also stock up on them from the store when they are on sale and freeze them to enjoy all year. They are full of antioxidants (found in plants) that prevent cell damage and may increase communication between “brain cells”, improving memory, and keeping your brain from “aging”. I sprinkle blueberries on my morning oatmeal, add them to smoothies and just enjoy them frozen as a sweet, healthy treat.

Turmeric has gotten a lot of attention lately. This spice comes from the turmeric plant and is the main ingredient in curry. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which studies have shown benefits the brain. I add ground turmeric in soups, stews and mashed potatoes which gives them a nice, golden color.

Green tea is an exceptional beverage that supports your brain. Full disclosure I LOVE tea and have never drank a cup of coffee in my life! I’ve had tea in an authentic tea shop in Beijing, China; sipped afternoon tea in Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel; and, enjoyed a cup of British tea in Highclere Castle (setting for Downtown Abbey) in the UK. Green tea is my favorite. The caffeine content in tea (about 1/3 of coffee) boosts alertness, its antioxidants protect the brain, and the amino acid, L-theanine, helps you relax. Just make sure not to add too much sugar.

Tea_Pexels 814264_Maria Tyutina
If you’re not an avid tea drinker, it may take some testing to get the right cup for you. You may have to try a few different flavors to find one that you enjoy. Water temperature and steeping time will also change the flavor of your tea. Follow the directions on the box or check the manufacturer’s website. Brewing a perfect cup doesn’t need to be rocket science, but it helps to follow some general guidelines to avoid a bitter experience. (Photo by Maria Tyutina)

Dark chocolate (another favorite) and cocoa powder are full of flavonoids, an antioxidant that protects brain cells. Studies have shown that people who frequently eat small amounts of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa powder perform better on mental memory tasks, as compared to those who never eat it. Also, chocolate can be a really good mood booster. Just like with green tea, you don’t want to go overboard with the sugar. So limit your daily intake to 1.0 to 1.6 oz per day.

Other foods, such as nuts, eggs and avocados, also contain nutrients that support memory and brain development. So give your brain health a boost and don’t forget to include some of these foods in your diet.


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