Our brains require just as much nutrition and energy as our bodies. Nutrients like B vitamins, healthy fats, and antioxidants can improve memory, concentration, and overall brain health. Stressed at your job, overworked from midterms, or just feeling mentally exhausted recently? Munch on these 5 foods to boost overall brain health:
Dark Chocolate is packed with antioxidants and flavonoids that stimulate blood flow to the brain and help improve both memory and concentration. Its fatty acid profile and caffeine content also stimulate brain function. Stick with a 1-ounce portion (the size of a pack of dental floss) a few times a week. Look for versions with >50% cocoa and no sugary add-ins (like caramel, marshmallows, etc) to reap benefits without unnecessary calories and sugar.
Eggs, specifically the yolk, are linked to improved memory. The choline in eggs, more specifically, interacts with brain neurotransmitters for improved recall, while its protein enhances concentration and energy levels. Worried about cholesterol? Recent studies show that only those genetically predisposed to high cholesterol need to be wary of dietary cholesterol intake. For the first time, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines have now eliminated cholesterol restrictions from their recommendations. Yet, stick to 1 egg a day or 1-2 eggs a few times a week to ensure a balanced and healthy diet.
Nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, carry a nutritious balance of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. These fatty acids, when consumed in the proper ratio, can balance serotonin levels and help boost mood. Incorporate a one ounce portion or ¼ cup a few times a week as an easy, on-the-go snack with a brain-boosting balance of protein, fiber, and fatty acids.
Lentils, and other legumes, contain brain-boosting vitamins, like vitamin B5, folic acid, and magnesium. Folate boosts brain power by decreasing amino acids that interfere with brain function. Add a ½ cup to a balanced plate for a brain-boosting source of protein and meat substitute.
Leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, have folate, vitamin A and D, and fatty acids. A recent study found that older adults who eat 1-2 servings of leafy greens a day experience slower mental deterioration than those who ate no vegetables at all.
Incorporating whole grains, berries, seeds, fatty fish (like salmon and mackeral), bananas, and green tea into a balanced diet can also boost brain power. Don’t forget to pair these diet tips with plenty of rest (7-9 hours per night) and other forms of mental relaxation, like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, to ensure optimum performance at work and in life. Enjoy!