[Healthy Foods] The 7 Best Brain Foods + 3 Top Brain Smoothie Recipes
Wondering how to optimally feed your brain for a sharper mind today and lasting brain health tomorrow? Here’s our guide on the top 7 brain foods plus 3 best brain smoothies.
What is the single most important asset you own? Your house? Your stocks? Your money? Think again.
It’s your brain, a one-hundred-billion-neuron supercomputer that rivals any Artificial Intelligence machine out there.
With this in mind, investing in the health of your brain only seems reasonable. A healthy, well-balanced diet containing the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your brain needs can help keep your cognitive functions sharp and your brain healthy, even into old age.
Here are 7 brain foods that will help you improve brain and memory performance and keep your brain health intact against the advances of aging, cell damage and cognitive decline.
Best Brain Food #1: Avocados, supporting oxygen supply and brain performance
A true superfood, avocados are packed with 20 different essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, notably vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, iron, fiber, magnesium and potassium.
Aside from being this absolute nutrient powerhouse, avocadoes are known for their healthy unsaturated fats, also called Omega-3 fatty acids.
Your brain needs oxygen – by itself, it uses 20% of your body's entire oxygen. Avocado's healthy fats support a healthy blood flow which in turn is responsible for supplying your brain with oxygen. High blood pressure, by contrast, is associated with declining cognitive functions.
Avocados’ healthy fats can play an important role in preventing blood pressure-related diseases affecting cognitive functions and brain health.
Other excellent sources of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines or mackerel.
Best Brain Food #2: Blueberries, keeping memory sharp even into old age
Blueberries are loaded with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and are one of the best sources of antioxidants.
Scientists believe that chronic inflammation and stress negatively impact brain health. Blueberries' powerful antioxidants and flavonoids help neutralize the free radicals and toxins which often lead to chronic inflammations and neuro-degenerative diseases.
Just how much the tart-sweet taste of these power berries can potentially contribute to your brain health was shown in a long-term study with more than 121,000 participants. It showed that consuming flavonoid-rich foods such as blueberries helped slow down memory decline in old age by up to two and a half years.
Even small modifications to your diet — including 2 servings of blueberries per week — can contribute to keeping your memory sharp and healthy.
Other amazing brain power berries that boost memory and cognitive abilities include strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Best Brain Food #3: Spinach, for quick thinking
College students, creatives, thinkers and brain workers, listen up. If you are looking for a brain food that helps you think quick and on your feet, spinach might be just what you need.
This extremely nutrient-rich dark, leafy green is full of good-for-your-brain vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E and K, iron, calcium, B vitamin folate and potassium.
Potassium actually promotes the electrical conductivity, supporting your brain's neurons in transmitting up to 1,000 nerve impulses per second.
B vitamin folate, in turn, has been shown to keep homocysteines – molecules with toxic effects for neurons – in check.
Other dark, leafy greens with similarly incredible track records in promoting brain health include kale, collard and lettuce.
Best Brain Food #4: Walnuts, speeding up information processing
Walnuts do not only look like miniature brains, they are also great sources of the brain-boosting mineral magnesium which researchers associate with improving memory and preventing memory loss at old age.
Magnesium, in particular, is believed to have a positive effect on brain plasticity, which is the brain's innate ability to adapt and learn from experience.
On top of that, what makes walnuts a brain-boosting superfood is its unique combination of antioxidants and specific Omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) which are an integral part of a well functioning nervous system and a healthy brain.
DHA are part of brain cells and nerves and play a vital role in speedy processing of information inside your brain.
Other healthy nuts and seeds that are particularly good for memory and learning include almonds, pecans, cashews and Brazil nuts as well as sunflower, sesame, chia and flax seeds.
So, yes, to provide your brain with firepower, feel free to “go nuts”.
Best Brain Food #5: Dark Chocolate, for alertness and enhanced cognitive performance
Here comes some seriously good news for any sweet tooth: raw cacao and dark chocolate (with a 70% and higher raw cacao content) are known to sharpen your cognitive abilities.
Rich in calcium, magnesium, iron and flavonols, dark chocolate improves the blood flow to your brain, boosting your attention for up to two to three hours after consumption.
Plus, what many do not know about dark chocolate: its polyphenols lighten your mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
So, in essence, dark chocolate is an absolute brain and soul food. Still, it remains a high-calorie food, so enjoy it in moderation.
Best Brain Food #6: Green Tea, for better focus and higher productivity
Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on earth. Made from dried, unoxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush, it features some of the highest levels of antioxidants and polyphenols of all teas, effectively shielding your brain cells from free radicals and oxidative damage.
A study conducted at the University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland found that people who consumed green tea extract on a regular basis showed higher working memory functionality.
Another reason why green tea increasingly finds its way into university coffee shops and office kitchens is that it provides the right amount of focus and relaxation needed for intellectual and creative work.
Green tea's moderate levels of caffeine release stimulating effects, including the firing of neurons and the concentration of positive neurotransmitters such as dopamine while the amino acid L-theanine has positive anti-anxiety effects on your brain.
Combining L-theanine and caffeine, green tea may put the mind in one of the best possible states: stimulated, but not jittery, productive, but not anxious.
Best Brain Food #7: Turmeric, clearing plaque formation in the brain
Turmeric is an ancient Indian spice, derived from the curcuma longa plant, with the distinct yellow colour you know from curry. Its main active ingredient, curcumin, features powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric has also been found to increase the levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which in studies has shown to have anti-depressant and stress-reversing effects on the brain.
More than that, curcumin is believed to lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease by helping to clear plaques in the brain and improving neuronal resilience against Alzheimer's neuro-degenerative powers.
Now, if you don't mind, let's move from theory into practice with a selection of some of the finest brain smoothie recipes.
What easier way to enjoy all these wholesome brain-boosting foods than in a fast, easy-to-make brain smoothie? So, let’s go crank those neurons up a notch!
3 Top Brain Smoothie Recipes
1. Berry Happy Memory (1-2 servings)
1 cup spinach/kale blend
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon walnuts
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
2. Dark Chocolate Brain Power (1-2 servings)
1 cup of spinach
1 cup unsweetened almond (or cashew) milk
1/2 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
3 pieces of dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher)
3 ice cubes
3. Green Matcha Memory Boost (1-2 servings)
1 cup kale
2 pitted dates
1/2 teaspoon organic matcha green tea powder
3 ice cubes
Brain food references