by Sarah Buron

The brain is the body’s control center, and it allows us to think, move, feel and breathe. Food strongly impacts brain health. Therefore we must provide it with fuel and nutrients to help it stay healthy and function properly. Brain-boosting foods often contain one or more of these nutrients:

  • B vitamins
  • Omega fatty acids
  • Healthy fats
  • Antioxidants, such as vitamin E and flavonoids

The following are good choices for brain-boosting foods:

  • Dark chocolate. Cocoa, also known as cacao, is found in dark chocolate. It has plenty of antioxidants as long as you stick to the dark stuff and check for added sugars. A one-ounce serving of dark chocolate contains 19% of the iron the body needs each day.
  • Fatty fish. Oily fish provide two types of omega-3 fatty acids that can boost brain function. Good choices include tuna, sardines, mackerel and salmon.
  • Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Nuts have healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that our brains need to function well. It can be easy to go overboard with nuts, so bare in mind that a serving of nuts is one small handful.
  • Avocados. Avocados may support the brain, and their oleic acid helps reduce blood pressure. They are also high in magnesium, which improves memory and learning ability.
  • Berries. Many types of berries contain flavonoid antioxidants, which are good for the brain. Blackberries, strawberries and blueberries are all great choices. Berries can also reduce inflammation, which reduces the risk of neurodegenerative disease and brain aging. Berries are delicious in a smoothie or breakfast cereal or simply enjoyed as a stand-alone snack.
  • Oranges. One medium orange has almost all of the vitamin C the body needs daily. Vitamin C is essential for brain health since it helps prevent mental decline.
  • Eggs. Eggs are rich in vitamin B-12, folic acid and vitamin B-6. B vitamins help to slow cognitive decline. They are also one of  the best sources of choline, which has been linked to inflammation reduction and brain function promotion.
  • Spices. Not only do spices add flavor to food, but they are also known to help the brain fight off harmful free radicals that harm the brain. For example, turmeric is associated with improved memory and the growth of new brain cells. It has substantial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, which help the brain.
  • Coffee. Two main components in coffee, caffeine and antioxidants, can help support brain health. Caffeine sharpens concentration, increases alertness and improves mood. However, caffeine can affect sleep patterns, so make sure to keep that in mind.
  • Broccoli. Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, are a good source of fiber and nutrients. Leafy greens are also rich in brain boosting nutrients like lutein, folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, flavonoids and beta carotene.
  • Fermented foods. Fermented foods combine milk, vegetables or other raw ingredients with microorganisms like yeast and bacteria. Some examples include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and plain yogurt. These sources of live bacteria can enhance healthy gut function. Hundreds of nerves that line the gastrointestinal tract communicate with the brain and impact mental health.