How specific brain boosting super foods like blueberries and nuts can help you feel and think better.

Can you eat yourself smart? A smoothie concocted from salmon and blueberries might prove to be a bit unpalatable and isn’t going to directly correlate with acing a test, writing your work presentation or even remembering where you left your keys. Still, there is some truth to the old “junk in, junk out” axiom about healthy eating. A good balanced diet and a little help from the brain boosting super foods can have you operating at optimal levels. So what foods should you make sure you are getting to boost your brain performance?

Blueberries

Most people call them blueberries but we like to think of them as “brain berries.” Research tells us that blueberries help protect your brain from oxidative damage and likely reduce your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Blueberries also have loads of other health benefits including natural fibre that can promote regularity and skin brightening anti-oxidants. So choose organic when possible, eat them plain by the handful or mix them in a smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal.

Nuts & Seeds

Reduce age related cognitive decline with nuts and seeds. Add just an ounce each day of whatever nuts and seeds you prefer. Brain boosting nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pine nuts and filberts can be eaten roasted or raw and are a great topping to steamed or sautéed vegetables. Seeds like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds are great for your noggin. You can also utilize nut spreads such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini but be sure to look for unhydrogenated nut butters and keep an eye out for extra sugar and sodium.

Oily Fish

While some people find oily fish an acquired taste, it is certainly a taste worth acquiring. Oily fish are rich in omega-3s which are critical for brain function. Oily fish are high in DHA, a fatty acid crucial to the health of our nervous system and low levels of DHA have been linked to an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. These essential fatty acids also contain anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce your risk of developing certain cancers and heart disease. Good oily fish include salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, pilchards, herring, kipper, eel or whitebait among others.

Avocados

Now you have a reason to indulge in the occasional guacamole and chips! Avocados may also aid in lowering blood pressure and hypertension. Hypertension is a major risk factor for declining cognitive abilities suggesting that lower blood pressure may promote brain health. Avocados are high in fat and calories, however, so don’t over do it. As a general guide, a 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to one daily is an appropriate amount. Whip up a little guacamole, or put avocado slices on your next sandwich to the full benefits of this brain boosting food.

Eggs

The egg has in the past gotten a bad rap for cholesterol but in reality, the egg boasts an impressive nutritional resume for a mere seventy calories. Eggs are a high quality protein rich in vitamins and minerals. But that’s not all. Eggs contain an important nutrient called choline. Choline may help boost the memory center of the brain. Researchers have found evidence that choline may increase the size of neurons, which helps them fire electrical signals more strongly and rebound faster between firings. Additionally, two antioxidants found in egg yolk called lutein and zeaxanthin may help prevent the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. So hard boil them, make a vegetable frittata, and egg salad sandwich or more. The egg is one of the most versatile foods around.

Dark Chocolate

You knew it right? Something as good as chocolate can’t be bad. What better food to end with? Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties and contains several natural stimulants which increase the production of endorphins while enhancing focus and concentration. The stimulants found in dark chocolate also improve mood. Dark chocolate has high content of flavanols that facilitate blood supply to the brain and enhance cognitive skills. While the biggest benefits appear to be found in dark chocolate, milk chocolate lovers can nibble with the knowledge that it’s good for them too. Milk chocolate jump starts impulse control and reaction time and has been known to improve visual and verbal memory. While an extra serving of blueberries is no big deal, and extra serving of chocolate is. Chocolate is one super food that you have to indulge in sparingly so take care not to overdo it.

Coffee & Tea

Imbibed in reasonable amounts, coffee and tea can have brain boosting and other health benefits. Caffeine in small doses can improve your memory, your mood and even increase your focus. Tea contains powerful antioxidants known as catechines which aid in healthy blood flow. Green tea offers polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants that can increase the availability of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is critical in creating positive mood states. Likewise, polyphenols also help the brain and body run efficiently by maintaining a steady supply of our body’s primary fuel: glucose. Studies suggest that polyphenols may also help prevent cancer and heart attacks.

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