31 Superfoods for Brain Function, Health & Memory
It’s not just food. It’s fuel and eating a well-balanced diet is crucial and is going to leave you feeling energized and healthy. One of the benefits of eating a well-balanced diet is how it affects your mind.
Brain Healthy Foods
Unfortunately, there are no magical foods that are going to help you beat procrastination or shake off the need to constantly check your social media. However, there are plenty of superfoods that are great for supporting focus, cognition, and brain health. Nutrition doesn’t generally change your brain function immediately, but it can absolutely support brain health.
Certain foods are better for fueling the brain, such as (complex) carbohydrates and omega 3. If you want to maintain energy, then it’s vital that you choose the right fuel for your brain. This is one of the drawbacks of many popular (or extreme) diets.
Making certain choices can negatively impact your brain function – so, it’s important that you understand what your brain truly needs to maintain optimum function.
In addition to making the right dietary decisions, it’s important to lead a healthy overall lifestyle. That means exercising regularly, managing stress, and getting the proper amount of sleep. However, if it’s brain food you’re looking for, then it’s brain superfoods we’re going to provide you with.
Power Foods for the Brain
Psychology Today points to the connection between the gut and the mind and what it can do the immune system. Certain foods can lead to sickness, while others can stave it off. (Source)
As we place more and more stress on your bodies, we start to struggle, mentally and physically. Bad dietary decisions can result in brain fog, affecting your ability to focus, think clearly, and leaving you confused. So, it makes sense that there are foods which can do the opposite.
Brain fog can come from foods high in sugar and containing trans fats. This can make you feel depressed and anxious. However, choosing the right foods will keep you mentally sharp, productive, and even positive. So, let’s talk about these brain superfoods.
Think about it like this: with every bite of food you are either nourishing your brain or starving it.
Before we discuss specific superfoods, I think it’s important to make a note here. All of these foods are healthy options, however, if you continue your diet as is and just include one of these foods here and there, you’re not going to feel the full force of their benefits. The only way to truly see the benefits that they can provide is if they form part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
What Is Good Brain Food?
Superfoods aren’t a magical food that will erase bad dietary decisions that you continue to make. So, bear that in mind as you read through the list. Additionally, there is no reason that you can’t include all of the foods we discuss. Everything that we have included can be found in your local supermarket or health food store.
You don’t need to go climb a large mountain to find anything and there’s nothing here that’s going to break the bank either. The point is, not all superfoods are ridiculous items that are out of your budget or impossible to find. Most of the best superfoods are the ones you see every day.
While WebMD recommends a variety of foods specifically for brain health, we’re going to delve even deeper into the subject with 31 superfoods that are perfect for brain power and focus. (Source)
31 Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Focus
Okay, you’re not going to be eating water, however, it’s still a superfood. WebMD reports that your brain needs water. If your body’s water content is just a percent below the ideal number, it can result in dehydration. If you don’t think that sounds like a big deal, consider this: that one percent dip is enough to kill your productivity. (Source)
According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News dehydration can decrease your productivity by 12%. So, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to have a drink of water – be sure that you are drinking water every 20 minutes or so. If you have to set a reminder to do it, so be it. (Source)
There are all types of fish that serve your brain function. It’s because they are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, which just happen to play a vital role in the development and function of your brain. Heart.org says you should be aiming to enjoy at least three servings of fatty fish every week.
Good examples include salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and lake trout, too. You can enjoy them as your main dish at dinner or include them in a lunchtime salad. If you hate fish don’t worry too much. There are other amazing sources of omega 3 fatty acids, and some of them are even on this list. So, stay tuned.
Whole grains go through less processing – their cousins are stripped of all their nutrients. Fiber will keep you nice and full, while vitamin E improves cognitive function and memory.
In fact, evidence for the health beneﬁts of whole grains is well-documented – and was touted by Grain Brain’s author in his earlier book The Better Brain which included foods like whole grain couscous, oatmeal, spelt pasta, and quinoa-stuﬀed peppers throughout its menu plans. (Source)
4. What do berries do to your brain?
Nature’s candy is chock full of antioxidants. They fight oxidative stress and inflammation, which contribute to the aging brain. Berries aren’t just delicious, they’re exceptionally good for your brain.
Because of their high levels of gallic acid, berries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress. (Source)
5. Avocado – Great for Your Mental Health
This healthy fat is great for your mental health, it also just happens to help fight bad cholesterol. It reduces the risk of heart disease, too.
One of the big ways it does so is in preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Which is good news for your brain, as this results in improved blood flow.
Avocados are high in calories, however, so Kulze suggests adding just 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to one daily meal as a side dish. (Source)
Eggs are a kind of magical food. They are packed with nutrients and thanks to their choline content, they are amazing when it comes to improving your reaction time, memory, and they also help you beat fatigue.
The choline is found in the yolk, so don’t miss out on the good stuff. Eggs also happen to be an incredible source of omega 3 fatty acids, so for the fish haters, eggs are a winner.
7. How to Increase Brain Power with Leafy Greens?
We’re talking kale, spinach, rocket, and chard here. They are packed with vitamin B6, B12, and folate.
Why does this matter? They’re known for their ability to break down homocysteines. These are the compounds recognized as contributing to dementia and other cognitive issues.
You might be thinking you don’t need to worry about dementia just yet, but dark leafy greens can help you focus now, too. Enjoy them in a salad, toss them in a smoothie, there are plenty of ways you can get greener in your diet.
As for not worrying about dementia, recent research suggests it takes 20 years for it to develop (Source), so it’s never too early to keep it in mind.
We know how great nuts are for our health. You also know the risk of overdoing it with these healthy nuts. Let’s talk about why they’re good for your brain. Not only will you find plenty of vitamin E in walnuts, they’re also a great source of antioxidants that fight cognitive decline.
Of course, they keep you nice and full, too. So, walnuts are a big overall winner here. They also contain omega 3 fatty acids.
Although they are commonly thought of as nuts, almonds are fruits of the almond tree, which is native to Asia and the northern half of Africa.
Not everyone is a fan of walnuts, though, so if you don’t love them you can choose almonds instead. You get the same benefits, but with a different flavor.
10. Flaxseeds Improve Brain Health
It is one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids and a whole lot of other essential nutrients. Fiber, vitamins, micronutrients, and omega-3. What could be better than that? Specifically, it’s high in a type of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which has been strongly linked to brain health. (Source)
This is an excellent option for vegetarians, vegans, fish haters, and people who just don’t like eggs. You can get your omega 3 from flaxseeds, along with walnuts and chia seeds, which we will discuss further down the page.
11. Carrots – Good Brain Food for Memory
Carrots have high levels of a compound called luteolin, which could reduce age-related memory deficits and inflammation in the brain, according to a study published in 2010 in the journal Nutrition (Source)
It’s easy to get these into your diet. Not only are they delicious raw, they make a great side dish with dinner, and even do well in smoothies. Carrots are brimming with vitamin A. How does that serve your focus and brain? It improves eyesight, of course, which is handy if you are fighting tired eyes from spending too long on a particular task.
12. The Probiotics in Yogurt Improve Memory Retention
Why yogurt? It just happens to contain tyrosine, which is an amino acid known to increase the production of brain hormones known to improve memory retention and increase alertness.
Eating yogurt has an emotional impact on your brain. Already known as a useful way to reduce stroke risk and improve digestion, yogurt may help people cope with mood, anxiety, stress, and pain, according to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles. (Source)
13. Pumpkin Seeds-Best Foods for Brain Health
Pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, which is known for its ability to improve mental speed, increase memory function, and boost problem-solving skills. It also contains niacin, which is great for fighting stress.
Pumpkin seeds are actually one of the most nutritious (and delicious) seeds to eat. They are a true brain food containing Omega 3 and Omega 6, making them a smart snack for you and your kids. The Omega 3 fatty acids are known for their role in improving mental health, aiding memory and supporting healthy brain development. (Source)
14. Can Dark Chocolate Make You Smarter?
Everything in moderation, but dark chocolate does have its benefits. It’s lower in sugar, so compared to other sweets it’s a low-calorie option.
More importantly, though, it is packed with antioxidants which are known to improve mood, concentration, and focus.
Numerous studies have suggested that high-potency cacao has significant effects on things like cognition, cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, and blood vessel function. What’s not to like? (Source)
15. Eating Asparagus Benefits the Mind in Powerful Ways
It isn’t just delicious, it’s brimming with vitamin B9 and vitamin K. Just a cup of asparagus is enough to provide you with 65% of your daily folate target.
Folate, of course, is known for its support of cognitive function, including improving memory and ability to process information. Compounds in asparagus protect against cancer, heart disease, AND dementia. (Source)
16. What Does Sunflower Lecithin Do for You?
This sunflower seed extract is easy to add in your pancakes, baked goods or even smoothies.
What is it good for? Well, thanks to its phosphatidyl choline content it improves your memory recall. If you’ve ever struggled to recall something, knowing you know it and that it’s in your brain somewhere, this is where sunflower lecithin takes control.
The main element of lecithin, choline, assists in digestion of fats and improves cell communication. Lecithin assists our nervous system to boosts memory functions, improves the learning process and promotes better sleep. Lecithin plays a vital role in the prevention of many conditions including amnesia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. (Source)
17. How Do I Use Rosemary to Improve Memory?
The aromatic compounds in rosemary are believed to contribute to the increase of blood f low to the brain. The smell alone is enough to improve alertness, memory, and precision. Incredible!
Rosemary not only tastes good in culinary dishes such as rosemary chicken and lamb, but scientists have now found it is also good for your brain. The herb rosemary contains an ingredient that fights off free radical damage in the brain, according to new research. (Source)
The active ingredient in rosemary, known as carnosic acid, can protect the brain from stroke and neurodegeneration that is due to injurious chemical free radicals.
18. Quinoa- Superfood to Improve Your Memory
To work at optimum levels, the brain requires glucose. This is why complex carbohydrates are so important – enter quinoa. The ultimate in complex carbs, this slow releasing food is packed with fiber and protein, as well as B vitamins.
Protein-rich quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, especially lysine, which may play a key role in regulating stress and anxiety. It also contains antioxidants and a small amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s the ultimate in brain foods. (Source)
19. Chia Feeds – Ancient Memory Booster
The Mayans and Aztecs were using chia seeds for a variety of uses and the word chia just happens to mean strength in Mayan. So, even without the science they were really onto something all those centuries ago.
Chia seeds are packed with fiber, potassium, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, and iron. You can toss them in your smoothie, cereal, salads… they’re incredibly versatile.
20. Is Coconut Water Good for the Brain?
What the coconut has is MCT, also known as medium chain triglycerides. Better known as a seriously effective brain fuel.
The high electrolyte content in the coconut water can improve the function of your nervous system and nerve transmission. Because of this, it can improve your reflexes and prevent cramps and spasms in the muscles. This is especially important if you live an active lifestyle. (Source)
This could explain why coconut water is such a popular health food product. This brain fuel supports memory retention and learning.
21. Spirulina Will Protect from Alzheimer’s Disease
This is a great source of protein, so it’s particularly important for vegans and vegetarians. It isn’t just a protein source, though. It’s also amazing for cognitive function. Spirulina benefits also include protection from Alzheimer’s disease by reducing levels of amyloid-beta proteins throughout the brain. (Source)
It fights damage and degeneration of the brain. Some studies have suggested it can reverse the damage done to the brain by aging, however, the jury remains out on that one.
22. Acai Berries Increase Brain Power
Omega 3s, antioxidants, vitamins, and more. Acai enhances the health of your brain, boosts cognitive function, and can even reduce the risk of disorders.
Recently, extensive research has suggested that acai berries can have neuroprotective effects i.e. help protect against damage to the central nervous system, which includes the brain. (Source)
23. Can Garlic Keep Brains Healthy?
According to the UK’s National Health Service, garlic might be able to fight certain types of brain cancer. (Source)
Garlic contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and aging.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy garlic, too, so it’s not too difficult to slip it into your meals throughout the day. It might make life a little easier if you buy it ready minced and frozen or mince it yourself and freeze it so it’s ready to use when you need it. That should help cut down on the stink it tends to create.
24. Goji Berries Will Boost Your Brain Sharpness
You might have expected to see them appear on the list sooner, but that just goes to show you how many superfoods there are serving your brain! Goji Berries are actually a legitimate brain food that contains a powerful phytochemical not found in any other fruit
Goji berries fight inflammation and enhance your mental sharpness. They’re also pretty delicious.
25. How Maca Benefit Your Brain Health?
It’s closely related to the radish, so there’s quite a lot you can do with maca. What is it good for?
Maca root can provide mental energy as well as physical energy. It has been traditionally used to help reduce stress, as well as to reduce depression and anxiety. Maca root can help to increase focus, and has also been linked to boosting overall cognitive function. Maca doesn’t just boost your brain power, it also helps fight stress, anxiety, and depression. (Source)
26. Acorn Squash – Memory Boosting Food
Folic acid and vitamin B12 are the acorn squash’s highlights. They help prevent shrinkage in the brain, as well as protecting against nerve damage. Not only that, but acorn squash can enhance your memory as well as your brain’s ability to process information.
Because of the vitamin A, vitamin C and other important antioxidants contained in acorn squash, it’s a disease-fighting food that helps boost your immune system and reduce chronic inflammation that leads to many diseases. (Source)
Whether you roast it or bake it, it’s going to be of great benefit to your brain.
27. Is Tomato Good for Your Brain Health?
One of the greatest things about tomatoes is that you can eat them any time of day and they go with just about everything. Plus, there are so many different types you’re sure to find a flavor you really enjoy. What do tomatoes contain that benefits your brain? Lycopene.
This antioxidant is known for its ability to fight free radicals, which damage your brain cells and lead to dementia. Not only can they reduce the risk of stroke, but they also improve your memory. Enjoy them in a salad, soup, in omelets, or just enjoy them on their own. There’s nothing quite like slicing a giant, red tomato in half and enjoying it with just a light sprinkling of seasoning. That’s right, eat it like an apple! (Source)
28. How Does Green Tea Prevent Dementia?
According to studies from the University of Basel, green tea improves electrical connectivity in the brain. This means that your cognitive functions see an improvement and it can help prevent dementia. (Source)
Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. These include improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other impressive benefits. Replace your soda intake with a cup of green tea and aim for two or three cups each day.
Turmeric contains the compound curcumin. According to UCLA researchers (Source), curcumin can fight dementia. Turmeric also helps boost antioxidant levels and keep your immune system healthy, while also improving your brain’s oxygen intake, keeping you alert and able to process information. Talk about a super spice! (Source)
If you are a massive fan of Indian food, then you’re probably cheering (or patting yourself on the back) right now. Turmeric is easy to slip into most foods, so don’t be afraid to raid your spice rack to improve brain function. (Source)
30. Boost Your Brain Development with Broccoli
Broccoli is another excellent source of choline, which is great for developing new brain cells and firing nerve connections. It’s also vitamin K rich, which is great for cognitive function and improving your memory.
It’s also delicious whether you enjoy it as a raw snack or steam it as a side dish for dinner. (Source)
31. What do blueberries do to your brain?
Okay, we already discussed berries. However, blueberries deserve a category of their own. The antioxidants in blueberries seem to benefit your brain by aiding brain function and delaying mental decline.
They’re great for fighting anxiety and dementia and also improve motor skills and learning ability. According to animal studies, the antioxidants in blueberries may affect areas of your brain that are essential for intelligence They’re simply the best. (Source)
Nature Gives You the Best Food for Brain Development
Man-made products are designed to last a long time on a shelf, they’re tweaked and altered to increase flavor and while they taste good, they have little nutritional value.
It’s time to stop shopping in the middle aisles of the supermarket and stick to the fresh sections. Create a meal plan for at least a week in advance, use it to write your shopping list and stick to that when you hit the supermarket. Your body and your brain will thank you for it.
What’s Healthy for Your Brain?
You should always consider what types of fuel your brain needs for optimum function. This isn’t something you should do some of the time or when you feel like it.
When it comes to consuming enough water, it’s important to remember that your brain is made up of around 75% water. So, if you don’t drink enough water how can you expect your brain to function properly? You can kiss your memory and concentration goodbye.
If you truly want to kick your brain power up a notch, then you need to be committed to your efforts. Who wouldn’t want to be more creative?
Why wouldn’t you want to be more focused and productive? You are contributing to your own brain fog problem by not choosing the correct foods to fuel your brain.
Holistic Approach to Brain Health
- You need to remove the foods that cause brain fog or leave you feeling irritable and exhausted. Which means cutting out (or at least reducing) refined and processed sugars, trans fats, processed foods, and hydrogenated vegetable oils. If you eat these types of food in large quantities, then you should expect to experience withdrawal symptoms (particularly in the case of sugar). However, once you’ve been avoiding these foods for a week you will start to feel more energetic, thus increasing productivity and making you feel sharper, too.
- The cravings for those nasty foods will start to dissipate and the superfoods will start to make their presence known . The more real food that you eat the more energy you will have steadily throughout the day.
- You can stop surviving from sugar crash to sugar crash and start performing all day long. You’ll also find that you’re not as hungry as you were before because you’re providing your body with the proper nourishment.
- Eating well isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t easy either. Especially when your body and brain has become accustomed to the junk food that provides you with a brief boost. Once you start to make the right decisions and consciously, it will become easier.
- Eating well doesn’t mean you can never enjoy your favorite foods or guilty pleasures ever again. What it does mean, though, is that most of the time you make the right choices and that those guilty pleasures are a treat. It might sound like the pits, but once you get started and see the difference in how you think and feel, you will know you made the right decision.
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