Foods to boost your brain power

In the 1920s, nutritionist Victor Lindlahr coined the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Fast forward nearly a century, and today that saying not only pertains to physical health, but mental health, as well.

“What we eat impacts our cognitive health,” says Joan Katz, RD, LNHA, Chief Dietitian at Christian Health Care Center. “Certain foods can boost our brain power, slow cognitive decline, and potentially provide protection against dementia.”

Here are some foods which promote cognitive vitality.

  • Blueberries are loaded with vitamins and high in antioxidants, which help prevent chemical reactions in the body which can damage cells. Fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried, blueberries are the no. 1 food which promotes brain health.
  • Avocados are actually fruits filled with healthy monounsaturated fat and nutrients important for your brain and skin. They stabilize blood sugar and boost energy, and are second to blueberries in boosting brain health.
  • Broccoli has high levels of vitamins K and choline, which help protect brain. It is also high in glucosinolates. These compounds can slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is needed for the central nervous system to perform properly and keep brains and memories sharp. Low levels of acetylcholine are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Celery, while low in calories, is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil is high in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may improve learning and memory and help reverse signs of aging and neuron damage in the brain.
  • Nuts and seeds, such as hazelnuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and flax seed, are good sources of antioxidants and vitamin E. Higher levels of vitamin E correspond with slowing cognitive decline. Of all nuts, however, walnuts warrant special recognition. They have more healthful and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut.
  • Turmeric is one of most powerful nutrients found in nature. The spice contains the chemical curcumin, which has antioxidant effects.
  • Beets are one of most nutritious root vegetables. They are high in antioxidants and natural nitrates that boost blood supply to brain and improve cognitive performance.
  • Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
  • Wild salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are for good brain health and also contain anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Beans stabilize glucose levels. The brain depends on glucose for fuel. Since the body can’t store glucose, beans can provide a steady supply.
  • Whole grains, including oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice, also supply glucose.
  • Freshly brewed tea, not bottled or powdered, contains antioxidants and a modest amount of caffeine which can boost brain power by enhancing memory, focus, and mood.
  • Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties. It also has several natural stimulants which enhance focus and concentration, and stimulate production of endorphins, which help improve mood.

Through the Christian Health Care Center Speakers Bureau, Mrs. Katz makes educational, entertaining, and enlightening presentations on a variety of nutritional topics for community groups, businesses, and organizations. For more information, call (201) 848-4463, email khockstein@chccnj.org, or visit ChristianHealthCare.org.

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