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What Should You Eat if Your Job Demands a Lot of Brainwork
Want to learn how to improve your memory or know what types of food increase brainpower? You’ve come to the right place.
Our brain is the control center of our entire body. It signals our heart to beat, causes our lungs to bring fresh oxygen into our body, regulates emotions and affects our cognitive abilities.
You’ve likely heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Studies show this may be true.
Foods with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants nourish our brain and protect it from oxidative stress, which can lead to cell and tissue damage. They also play a huge role in improving specific mental tasks like memory, planning, organizing and making decisions. On the flip side, nutrient-deficient foods, such as highly processed and refined foods, can damage our brain and its functions.
To keep all cylinders firing and help our brain to perform at its peak, it requires a sufficient amount of calories, nutrients and other essential vitamins and minerals. This is exactly why a healthy, balanced diet that includes brain-boosting foods is so imperative.
So, what foods nourish your brain with all these essential nutrients and minerals we've been chatting about? Keep reading to discover the best foods to boost your brain and memory.
1. Oily or Fatty Fish (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
Did you know that your brain is 60% fat, with half of the fat being omega-3 fatty acids?
Oily or fatty fish are usually at the top of the list of foods linked to better brain power. These brain-boosting foods are rich in two of the most vital omega-3s, EPA and DHA. The brain needs these vital fats to build nerve cells, as well as improve learning and memory.
Unlike the saturated fats found in meat, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish promote healthy brain function, heart health and general health.
Because the body doesn’t manufacture fatty acids, it's important to supplement your body with these fats through your diet by eating fish! The good thing about oily fish is that it contains active fats that the body can consume easily. You can also obtain fatty acids from plants such as pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, walnuts and soy beans. These are great foods for vegetarians or vegans.
Omega-3s benefit the body in many ways. They help to fight age-related mental decline, combat Alzheimer’s disease and some studies also suggest that taking sufficient amounts of omega-3 fats may help to reduce depression.
Some fish and seafood that are high in these essential elements include herring, salmon, trout, sardines, kippers and albacore tuna.
In a nutshell, oily fish, also known as fatty fish, contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that help to sharpen memory, improve mood and protect your brain against age-related mental decline.
Broccoli contains powerful plant antioxidants, essential fibers, vitamins (vitamin K specifically) and nutrients that help to improve cognitive function and enhance brain power.
Studies suggest that broccoli is chock-full of glucosinolates. Without getting into a science lesson, glucosinolates break down to form compounds called isothiocyanates. This compound ultimately affects how our brain functions, as well as our memory. Insufficient amounts of it have been linked with Alzheimer’s.
Thankfully, you can give your brain a boost by getting glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, kale and cabbage.
Additionally, broccoli is packed with great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that help to prevent the brain from damage to the brain, as well as vitamin C and flavonoids that help support brain health.
3. Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
Carving pumpkins is a great fall pastime, but you may want to think twice before you clean up the mess and throw out all the pumpkin seeds!
Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits. They're packed with valuable minerals that may help to improve memory and thinking abilities. They contain powerful antioxidants that prevent your body and brain from free-radical damage. They've also been shown to improve your mood.
Whether you bake your pumpkin seeds shelled (just as they are after a pumpkin-carving sesh) or opt for shell-free seeds you can buy at the grocery store, these little treats nourish your body and boost your brain.
Here are some of the powerful minerals and nutrients contained in pumpkin seeds and their benefits:
- Iron: Helps to prevent brain fog and impaired brain function.
- Zinc: Linked with nerve signaling, sufficient amounts of zinc in the body help to fight neurological conditions such as depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Copper: A powerful compound that helps the brain to control signals. Low amounts of copper may cause neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
- Magnesium: A valuable mineral that may improve learning and memory. Insufficient amounts of these nutrients may cause migraines, epilepsy, depression and other neurological diseases.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with valuable micronutrients and minerals that can enhance brain function and memory. You can also get some or all of these micronutrients from cashew nuts, beef, almonds and oysters.
4. Blueberries (and other dark-colored berries)
Blueberries not only taste like nature's candy, they're incredibly healthy and nutritious. They contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which have been shown to enhance memory and certain cognitive functions in children and older adults, as well as delay short-term memory loss. They boost your heart health, brain function and numerous other aspects of your body.
Enjoy them with your breakfast, sprinkle them over a smoothie or pack them as a simple snack. You'll not only satisfy your belly, you'll nourish your brain with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help to combat cognitive decline and improve memory.
Boost your brain power
So there you have it—the four best foods to boost your brain and memory. Some of these foods help to protect your brain from radical damage, while others improve cognitive function and enhance communication between brain cells. But they all have one thing in common, they help your brain run efficiently and effectively.
If you're looking for tasty ways to incorporate these superfoods into your daily diet, check out our recipe index where you'll find over 300 delicious dishes to choose from!
Let's include brain-boosting foods in our diet each day — together!
Cheers to a healthy lifestyle and living FULLforLife!
xo, Pam & Kalie
P.S. If you want to maintain a healthy body and mind, you'll want to minimize this in your diet!
Leon Collier is a health blogger and academic writer who specializes in writing about brain health and other brain-related topics. He has also written college paper reviews on multiple websites to help students looking for assignment writing services choose reputable and reliable companies with professional and experienced essay writers. You can find him on Twitter @LeonCollier12.