These Are the Foods Neurologists Eat for Brain Health
You’ve probably heard the phrase “brain food.” While a good book or a documentary might be able to feed your creativity or teach you something new, those things can’t provide your mind with the actual nutrition it needs to function properly.
“I encourage people to eat avocados,” Brenner advised. “They are high in healthy omega-3’s.” Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat with a number of brain-boosting benefits including reducing your risk of memory loss and depression. Avocados also may be successful at fighting inflammation due to oleic acid, a compound found in some studies to reduce the inflammatory response that could lead to degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s.
Black, or “forbidden,” rice has become a trendy food item on Instagram. But unlike the Unicorn Frappuccino or the cronut, this social media sensation might actually improve people’s health. The rice gets its dark color from anthocyanins, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound that’s also found in
blackberries, and other dark-colored plant foods. Blueberries
Antioxidants play a huge role in preventing brain degeneration. “Antioxidants are the clean-up and protection system for the brain,” said. “You want to look for antioxidants in fruit that doesn’t have too much sugar, to avoid a spike in insulin.” Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all great choices for an antioxidant-rich snack.
“Not Hershey’s chocolate,” said Zembroski. “High-cocoa dark chocolate.” It’s not the sugary sweetness that makes chocolate such a healthy treat. Zembroski recommends dark chocolate largely because of its flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that have been shown to improve learning memory and help those with traumatic brain injuries that could reduce cognitive functioning and memory. “Oxidative stress and inflammation cause a lot of the damage people experience,” Zembroski explained.
Yet another reason you shouldn’t kick your coffee habit — coffee is good for your brain! “Coffee gets a bad rap because people load it with cream, syrups, and sugar, all the things that create dysfunction in the nervous system,” said Dr. Zembroski. “It’s like a cocktail of inflammation.” However, he explained, black coffee has lots of benefits for your brain.
Cur cumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, an orange-colored spice used widely in Indian cuisine. “It’s a really powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant,” said . “The research shows that it’s excellent for those with potential dementia, potential Alzheimer’s, or those with a traumatic brain injury.” Cur cumin boosts what’s called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps brain cells to grow.
They might have more calories than the whites, but the egg yolks might be the healthiest part. They contain a nutrient called lutein, which cognitive functioning.
Grapefruit is a low-sugar fruit with antioxidants that has some blood pressure benefits as well, told us over the phone. Eat grapefruit on its own or broil it for a sweeter midday snack.
Protein is absolutely essential for brain health. “Amino acids in the protein that we eat help to create neurotransmitters,” said Dr. Brenner. “They are the really the basics for building neurotransmitters, the little messengers that help your brain communicate and keep you feeling good and energetic.
Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink, as it contains tons of antioxidants. “It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine,” , “which increases the activity of a neurotransmitter called calms the brain down and relaxes the nervous system. People that don’t produce enough develop symptoms of anxiety. Legumes
Legumes, including lentils and beans, are a fibrous, healthy way to get the carbohydrates your brain needs. “When we take in carbs, whether they are from a fruit, vegetable, or grain, our bodies break them down into glucose,” explained on the phone. “Glucose is fuel for your whole body, including your brain. We want this fuel to come from more complex carbs, which take a little longer to break down than say, pure white sugar.
“For prevention of Alzheimer’s and other brain-related diseases, the data is very strong to support the Mediterranean diet,” said “The diet involves eating fish, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, antioxidants, spices, and a splash of red wine.” Seeds
Seeds such as sunflower seeds and flax seed contain omega-6 fatty acids, which, according to , help with connections in the brain and boost growth and learning. “It helps protect our brain, helps communication to different areas of the brain,” explained. “We can really see its effects on cognition with memory and being able to focus.
“High-lute in foods such as spinach are good for cognitive functioning,” advised . Kale and other leafy greens also provide lute in. Swap your iceberg lettuce for one of these nutritious greens to get all the brain-boosting benefits.
“If you’ve ever looked at a walnut, it kind of looks like a brain,” said We love nuts as functional neurologists. Nuts in general are loaded with vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in antioxidants, and loaded with polyphenols.” According to the Journal of Nutrition, these polyphenolic compounds found specifically in walnuts reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.