15 Foods for a Healthy Brain

(Kerdkanno/shutterstock)

What does the food you eat have to do with how your brain functions? Turns out an awful lot. While we’ve always known that what we eat affects our bodies and how we look, scientists are also learning more and more that what we eat takes a toll on our brains. Yes, brain foods matter (especially for our gray matter).

Of course, some foods are better for your brain than others. I’ve rounded up 15 brain foods you should be eating to feed both your mind and body. With a mix of fruits, veggies, oils and even chocolate (yes, chocolate!), there’s something to please everyone! 

1. Avocados

(tashka2000/iStock)

(tashka2000/iStock)

This fruit is one of the healthiest ones you can consume and one of my all-time favorites. These green powerhouses are packed with monosaturated fats or the “good” kind, keeping blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing.

Containing both vitamin K and folate, avocados help prevent blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improve cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration.

Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit. Not too shabby! 

2. Beets

Mix grated beet and ground turkey for a delicious burger that is good for your blood. (marekuliasz/photos.com)

Mix grated beet and ground turkey for a delicious burger that is good for your blood. (marekuliasz/photos.com)

It might be their funny shape or memories of bad recipes eaten during childhood, but beets seem to be an intimidating food for many people, even vegetable lovers. That’s a shame, because these root vegetables are some of the most nutritious plants you can eat.

They reduce inflammation, are high in cancer-protecting antioxidants and help rid your blood of toxins. The natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance.  

3. Blueberries

(veeterzy/unsplash)

(veeterzy/unsplash)

Proving that great things do come in small packages, blueberries are a fruit I try to eat daily. 

For starters, it’s one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods known to man, including vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress.  

4. Bone Broth

ThinkstockPhotos-174833983

Bone broth is the ultimate food for healing your gut and, in turn, healing your brain. This ancient food is full of health benefits, ranging from boosting your immune system, overcoming leaky gut, improving joint health and overcoming food allergies. 

Bone broth is what I prescribe most frequently to my patients because it truly helps heal your body from the inside out. 

5. Broccoli

(Olha_Afanasieva/iStock)

(Olha_Afanasieva/iStock)

Your mom got it right when she told you to eat your broccoli. It’s one of the best brain foods out there. Thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline, it will help keep your memory sharp. 

6. Celery

ants-on-a-log-peanut-butter-celery-1024x768

For a vegetable with such few calories, celery sure does offer a lot of benefits. Its high levels of antioxidants and polysaccharides act as natural anti-inflammatories and can help alleviate symptoms related to inflammation, like joint pain and irritable bowel syndrome. 

7. Coconut Oil

(Geo-grafika/iStock)

(Geo-grafika/iStock)

When it comes to your brain, coconut oil works as a natural anti-inflammatory, suppressing cells responsible for inflammation. It can help with memory loss as you age and destroy bad bacteria that hangs out in your gut. 

 

8. Dark Chocolate

(jill111/pixabay)

(jill111/pixabay)

Not all chocolate is created equal; in fact, dark chocolate can actually be good for you! Chocolate is chockfull of flavonols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to both the brain and heart. 

The rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more health benefits. 

9. Egg Yolks

Studies show that replacing a grain-based breakfast with eggs can help you eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours. (robynmac/iStock)

Studies show that replacing a grain-based breakfast with eggs can help you eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours. (robynmac/iStock)

Yolks contain large amounts of choline, which helps in fetal brain development for pregnant women. It also breaks down bethane, a chemical that produces hormones related to happiness. That’s right, eggs can make you happy! 

10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

(U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr/CC BY)

(U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr/CC BY)

Real extra virgin olive oil is truly a brain food. Thanks to the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols that are found in the oil, including EVOO in your diet may not only improve learning and memory, but also reverse the age- and disease-related changes. The oil also helps fight against ADDLs, proteins that are toxic to the brain and induce Alzheimer’s. 

11. Green, Leafy Vegetables

(kaboompics/pexels)

(kaboompics/pexels)

Getting regular helpings of leafy green brain foods — like kale, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce — can help keep dementia at bay according to new research. 

In the study, which evaluated the eating habits and mental ability of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years, those adults who ate a serving of leafy green veggies once or twice a day experienced slower mental deterioration than those who ate no vegetables, even when factors like age, education and family history of dementia were factored in. 

12. Rosemary

(fotogal/iStock)

(fotogal/iStock)

We already knew that rosemary oil has a variety of benefits, but did you know that the herb does, too? Carnosic acid, one of the main ingredients in rosemary, helps protect the brain from neurodegeneration. It does this by protecting the brain against chemical free radicals, which are linked to neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s, strokes and normal aging in the brain. 

13. Salmon

Salmon with Dijon mustard (msheldrake/iStock/Thinkstock)

Salmon with Dijon mustard (msheldrake/iStock/Thinkstock)

If you like seafood, get excited, because salmon is one of the most nutritious, brain food-friendly foods out there! It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your brain running smoothly ­— goodbye, brain fog — and improve memory. 

Please note that these benefits are for Alaskan wild-caught salmon — farm-raised and regular wild-caught salmon can be filled with mercury and toxins. 

14. Turmeric

(Oliver Hoffmann/iStock/Thinkstock)

Turmeric roots and powder (Oliver Hoffmann/iStock/Thinkstock)

Turmeric, is an ancient root that’s been used for its healing properties throughout history. Thanks to curcumin, a chemical compound found in turmeric, the spice is actually one of the most powerful (and natural) anti-inflammatory agents. 

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. 

15. Walnuts

(ALLEKO/iStock)

(ALLEKO/iStock)

It turns out that eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts. Just munching on a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s. 

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He recently authored Eat Dirt and “Gut Repair Cookbook,” and he operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites at DrAxe.com

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