Did you know that the foods we eat can support our brain health? Unfortunately, eating these foods will not turn you into the next Albert Einstein (sorry), but research has shown that including specific foods in your diet may help to optimise brain health, improve memory and reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we age. This article explores the 5 best foods for brain health you should be eating.
Key nutrients to focus on when it comes to good brain health include antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, low-GI carbohydrates and specific vitamins and minerals. Together, these key nutrients can help to nourish and maximise your brain health.
Veggies contain many different beneficial micronutrients, with the most beneficial for brain health being vitamins B, E and K. A study by Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago found that just 2.8 serves of vegetables per day was associated with a decreased rate of mental decline! Imagine what would happen when you consistently hit your 5 serves per day.
2. Antioxidant-rich foods
Foods such as berries and other fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants. They assist in preventing oxidative stress in the body which, in turn, can reduce inflammation. Some studies have shown that antioxidants can also help reduce or delay cognitive decline.
3. Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA are mainly found in oily fish like salmon, trout and mackerel. These fatty acids play a role in brain development and have an anti-inflammatory effect which may help improve memory and reduce the risk of brain conditions such as dementia.
4. Extra-virgin olive oil
Another great healthy fat EVOO is a monounsaturated fatty acid that also contains an abundance of polyphenols and bioactive compounds. As with EPA and DHA, this also has anti-inflammatory effects in the body, but it’s the polyphenols that shine here. They are potent antioxidants that have been shown to enhance cognitive function, as well as protect against cognitive decline as we age.
5. Low-GI foods
Carbohydrates are the brain’s preferred source of energy. However, some carbs are more beneficial than others for brain health. High-fibre, wholegrain-rich carbohydrates such as oats, lentils, quinoa and some fruits and vegetables are low-GI. This means that they are broken down more slowly in the body, which gives you and your brain longer-lasting energy!
The Mediterranean diet includes all of the foods mentioned above and has been shown to be beneficial for the brain. Remember, food always comes first! These nutrients are optimal when consumed in food form, and supplemental forms may not have these same effects in the body.