A diet heavy in sugar, caffeine and preservatives can not only make you feel like crap, but can also slow down your brain function.
If you want to achieve maximum brainpower, you need to consume foods high in important nutrients like fiber, antioxidants and Omega-3 fats.
Here are a few healthy foods that can make you smarter and improve the way you feel.
Incorporating as many of these foods into your daily diet can go a long way to making you look and feel better.
Let’s get right to it. In case you already forgot these foods will help boost your brain power.
This creamy, delicious fruit is high in the monosaturated fat that aids in blood circulation, a must for your brain to function at its best. Plus, avocados are terrific for the skin. Sliced avocados are a tasty addition to many dishes and there’s nothing as delectable as a sandwich of cheese, avocado and baby greens on whole grain bread. Guacamole with whole grain tortilla chips is a healthier take on potato chips and a fat-filled dip.
Blueberries are one of the best brain foods ever, since they’ve been linked to a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s, have been shown to improve motor skills and learning ability in rats and are one of the most potent anti-stress fruits. Blueberries are also high in fiber and low on the glycemic index, so they don’t cause your blood sugar to spike. Just be sure to eat the real thing, not the dried, sweetened, often totally artificial kind found in most “blueberry” muffins.
Leafy green vegetables
Too many of us aren’t getting enough iron, which can lead to fatigue, mood swings, poor thinking and other cognitive difficulties. Fight these maladies with several daily servings of leafy greens like arugula, kale, chard, spinach, romaine and other nutrient-dense veggies. All of these make delicious salads when tossed with other veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. Use your imagination and boost your brainpower!
These luscious fruits (yes, tomatoes are really fruits rather than veggies) are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant that can help to prevent dementia. The catch is that you have to cook the tomatoes to get the lycopene, so tomato sauce, marinara sauce and even ketchup are good sources. There’s no limit to the uses of tomato sauce in all types of dishes, and it’s very economical.
Unlike most snacks, nuts contain a powerful combo of fiber, protein and beneficial fats for a quick energy burst that won’t let you down later. The complex carbs in nuts perk you up while the protein and fat keep you satiated. Nuts also have vitamin E, an essential nutrient for cognitive function. The best nuts for brainpower are almonds, but cashews, walnuts, filberts and hazelnuts are all nutritional winners. Less nutritional are peanuts, while macadamias are extremely high in fat.
Hopefully you haven’t forgot what we are talking about yet. If you have then its that much more important for you to keep reading to see more foods that will help improve your memory and potentially make you smarter and healthier.
Like nuts, seeds are packed with protein, vitamin E, beneficial fats, brain-boosting magnesium and stress-busting antioxidants. Sunflower seeds make a super snack, while sesame seeds and tahini can add zip to many dishes. Toss handful of sesame or sunflower seeds on a steamed veggie for extra taste and super nutrition.
Oatmeal is obviously full of fiber, but it’s also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Oatmeal is excellent for cardiovascular function, which is crucial for a healthy brain. Steel-cut oatmeal is the best, for a satisfying breakfast that will keep you feeling full until lunchtime. Avoid the instant kind that comes in little envelopes and has added sugar. Got a sweet tooth? Why not satisfy it with a batch of oatmeal cookies?
The brain is constantly burning carbs, so it needs a continuing supply. That’s what you get from beans, which are loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Besides being inexpensive, beans give a slow release of glucose to the brain for all-day energy. There are dozens of varieties of beans to choose from, so why not add cold garbanzos to a salad, or cook up a batch of black bean soup?
Another great source of brain-friendly carbs, brown rice is a low-glycemic complex carbohydrate that is super for cardiovascular health. The nutty, chewy texture and taste of brown rice makes it a great addition to many dishes. Cook up a pot full once a week and add brown rice to whatever you prepare all week long.
While sodas are full of obesity-inducing high fructose corn syrup and preservatives, tea is packed with anti-oxidants that are good for your brain and the rest of your body, too. Just choose a tea and brew it fresh, but keep your consumption to 2-3 cups per day due to the caffeine. Hot tea is a healthier alternative to coffee, while ice tea is wonderfully refreshing on a hot day.
Your brain needs a constant supply of healthy fats, and olive oil is high in the kind of fats essential to good memory, clear thinking and a positive mood. Avoid problems like depression and memory loss by substituting healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, oily fish and avocados for processed fats.
You should already be feeling smarter just from reading this list. Let’s bring it home now with a few more foods that will keep your brain functioning at it’s peak.
Eggs are an economical source of both protein and healthy fats that can provide excellent energy for your brain. Plus, they’re high in selenium for an even mood. The healthiest eggs are the organic, free-range kind, and while we usually think of eggs as being a breakfast item, they can be part of delicious dishes like omelets and quiche that are great anytime. Add veggies like chopped onions and peppers for a delicious omelet, toss in a bit of low fat cheese and top it with salsa. Egg salad is a healthier alternative to processed lunch meats for sandwiches and deviled eggs are always a treat.
While the jury is still out on whether these tasty mollusks can zing up your sex life, they can definitely have a positive effect on your cognitive functions as well as your moods. Oysters are loaded with nutrients vital to brain health like magnesium, selenium and protein.
Wild salmon is a premium source for the Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for brain function. These acids are linked to a variety of benefits including improved memory, improved mood, reduced depression, anxiety and hyperactivity, improved cognition and alertness, plus reduced risk of dementia. To get optimal benefits, choose only Alaskan wild salmon and eat small portions twice a week. Avoid farm-raised salmon that has been fed artificial substances to enhance its color.
You can do your brain a big favor by substituting tuna for fatty, salty processed lunch meats when you make a sandwich. Tuna is a rich source of those important Omega-3 fatty acids and is the absolutely best source of vitamin B6, a nutrient linked to cognition, memory and general brain health. B6 also helps to balance your mood by regulating the “feel-good” hormones. The healthiest tuna for brainpower is yellowfin. Combine canned tuna with chopped green onions, lowfat mayo and lemon juice for a tasty sandwich filler. Add a bit of jalapeno pepper for extra zing!
Boost your brain power by adding these nutrient-rich foods to your diet! Don’t forget to search around Dumb Little Man for more Lifestyle and Health Tips that will help you to keep your mind and body healthy.
Written on 9/23/2013 by Linda Cauthen.
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