(WellnessNova.com) - The brain is one of the most important yet complicated organs in the body, which makes taking care of it essential. We need the brain to be at its best for us to thrive in our day-to-day lives and in the longterm.
Researchers continue to find ways to optimize the brain, and profound results have been noted by simply consuming certain foods. Take a look at the following 10 foods for brain health to improve your memory and keep your brain functioning at its best.
1. Dark Chocolate
Starting off the list strong is everyone’s favorite: chocolate! Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant that is thought to keep a brain healthy. Research has found that chocolate’s antioxidants enter and collect in parts of your brain responsible for learning and memory, including the hippocampus. These same flavonoids have also been found to improve standardized cognitive test scores.
Walnuts contain beneficial, health-promoting fats that your body and your brain need for optimum health. They’re also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant linked with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, patients were followed for an average of nearly 10 years, with 365 study subjects developing Alzheimer’s disease during that time, and another 100 developing other forms of dementia. The results showed that one-third of those who got the most vitamin E in their diets were 25 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than the one-third of participants who consumed the least.
Eggs are known for their high-protein content, but the bright yolks are also a rich source of choline. This is a nutrient your brain uses to make acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter linked to maintaining memory and communication among brain cells. Researchers at Boston University tracked the eating habits of more than 1,000 healthy adults over the course of 10 years and discovered that choline intake was related to better cognitive performance on certain types of memory tests.
Blackberries contain powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, which promote communication between neurons that allow the brain to be more open to learning new things. A study conducted at Tufts University in 2009 discovered that the polyphenols work to halt inflammation and promote the brain to receive new information.
Steven Pratt, MD, refers to this fruit as “brainberries,” since studies have found the incredible benefits they have on the brain. One study published in 2010 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that, after 12 weeks of daily supplements of wild blueberry juice, adults who had begun to experience mild memory problems showed an improvement in learning and recall abilities compared to similar adults who didn’t take the supplements.
Beans and legumes are a great source of complex carbohydrates, which can help provide a steady supply of glucose for the brain. Glucose serves as energy to keep the brain focused for prolonged periods of time. Beans, like chickpeas, are a great source of magnesium, which aids brain cell receptors in speeding up the transmission of messages while relaxing blood vessels, therefore promoting greater blood flow to the brain.
7. Wine and Champagne
Before you get too excited, it’s important to note that too much alcohol is known to destroy healthy brain tissue. But on the good side, research has found that drinking in moderation may be good for your mind. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry concluded that the antioxidant EGCG, present in red wine, keeps beta-amyloid proteins from harming brain cells. And British researchers found that a daily glass of Champagne can encourage growth of and better communication among nerve cells thanks to certain antioxidants found in the bubbly beverage.
According to Pratt, avocados are almost as good for promoting brain health as blueberries. The fruit is full of monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow that promotes healthy brain function. In an animal study published in the December 2011 issue of the British Journal of Neurosurgery, researchers found that a combination of avocado and soybean fats prevented oxidation and protected against nerve damage after exposure to low-oxygen conditions. The benefits occurred in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain accountable for functions like planning and critical thinking.
9. Kale and Other Cruciferous Veggies
Rich in powerful antioxidants, these superfoods can keep your brain healthy by protecting them against harmful free radicals. Research conducted at Rush University Medical Center tracked the diets and cognitive abilities of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years and discovered that people who ate one to two servings per day of green leafy vegetables had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Low consumption of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenonic acids (DHA) can result in delayed brain development and even the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. University of Pittsburgh researchers examined adults under 25 years of age and found that when they increased their omega-3 intake over six months, they had improved their scores on tests measuring working memory.
Incorporate these brain foods into your diet to boost your cognition and to help prevent Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders in your later years.