The brain, just like the rest of our body, depends on some major nutrients for its proper functioning. Certain food options offer nutrients to the brain to maximize its working ability.
Include the following foods in your diet for best learning, memory, concentration, mood and to expand brain power!
Oily fishes are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is key for expanding brain power since they help in building the brain cells and improve the structure of neurons. More than 60% of the human brain is made of fat, and half of that fat is of the omega-3 type, of which the brain and nerve cells are composed of.
Fishes like salmon, red snapper, trout, carp, mackerel, herring, tuna, redfish, and sardines are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. DHA is required for the development of the brain, the heart, joints, in managing stress, and producing serotonin, the good mood brain chemical.
Omega 3-s play a pivotal role in sharpening memory, thinking ability, enhancing mood, delaying mental (brain) decline, and in delaying symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have proved that eating fatty fishes increases gray matter in the brain thereby raising brain power. It is the part that mostly consists of the nerve cells that monitor decision-making and emotion.
The deficiency of these fatty acids might trigger depression or lead to learning impairments. Omega-3 fats also play a significant role in the development of the central nervous system of a baby who’s still in the womb. In case you are a vegetarian or vegan, include good plant sources of omega 3s in your diet like flaxseed, soya beans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, hemp, and chia to make up for the same.
As enjoyed by many for breakfast, eggs are an excellent source of a host of nutrients required to hike brain power and health. They are rich in vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline, all of which provide brain-boosting benefits. Deficiency of the B vitamins can give rise to depression and lead to irregular sugar levels in the brain (B12). These vitamins also prevent brain shrinkage and delay cognitive decline by reducing the levels of homocysteine in the blood, high levels of which increase the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
Egg yolks are rich in Choline, which boosts memory with the help of a chemical called acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and memory. Eggs are the most easily available and dense sources of this nutrient. Together, choline and folic acid (minimizes age-related mental decline), play an important part and help raise brain power.
According to research, chocolate works as a legitimate mood booster and elevates positive feelings in humans. It is composed of certain chemical compounds that stimulate and leave a positive effect on the mood. It helps deal with sleep deprivation and even increases blood flow to the brain and the heart. It also contains phenylethylamine (PEA) that makes the brain secrete endorphins to keep it more alert and focused.
Dark chocolate (70% and above) comprises cacao, which consists of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Flavonoids are a group of antioxidant plant compounds that deal with the learning and memory part of the brain. Antioxidants are renowned for brain-related benefits that protect the brain from developing age-related cognitive loss.
Studies have found out that these antioxidants increase neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain assigned for learning, and stimulate blood flow in the brain, increasing brain power. Having dark chocolate in controlled portions may aid in improving brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning.
Coffee is also a source of antioxidants, which act as a superfood for brain health. It helps one stay awake and improves focus by increasing the brain entropy for processing and decoding information. The caffeine in coffee has a lot of positive effects on the brain. Caffeine increases alertness by blocking adenosine, the chemical messenger which makes you sleepy. Caffeine improves mood by releasing serotonin – the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter. It sharpens concentration and energizes you making you more efficient at work that requires a high level of focus.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that increase brain power. Curcumin works with growth hormones and helps the brain cells to grow by boosting brain-derived neurotrophic factors. It benefits memory, expands brain power, eases depression, and can easily be used in your food to reap its many benefits. Enjoy its earthy flavor by adding it to your vegetables and meaty proteins the next time you prepare a meal.
A source of good fats, avocados elevate brain health and help reduce stress. Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids (also known as the ‘good fats’) and tyrosine. They are neuroprotective and bring about healthy blood flow. The unsaturated fats in avocados may lower the risk of cognitive decline by reducing high blood pressure. Avocados can even reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering the amount of bad cholesterol. A few other sources of healthy fats include nuts, flaxseed and chia seeds, canola, soybean, and sunflower oils.