Give Your Brain a Boost With These Five Foods

October 05, 2016

Can the foods you eat give your brain a boost? Science says yes. Here are SupermarketGuru’s top five brain foods.

Can the foods you eat give your brain a boost? Science says yes, and the foods can be found at your local supermarket. Shoppers are hungry for this information and want easy ways to feel better, think more clearly and just be healthier. Find out what five foods you can promote, to help boost the brain health of your community. 

Curry. Curry may prevent brain decline, according to recent findings published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy. Several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, and findings on aromatic turmerone take us even further, according to lead study author Adele Rueger. The team found that the spice could indeed hold clues for treating certain neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's, by helping to block the activation of microglial cells that have been linked to neuroinflammation and certain neurological disorders. Turmeric specifically is a potent anti-inflammatory food and is one of the spices in curry powder.

We know berries are great for our health; studies have found that eating berries may help slow age-related memory loss. Women with the highest intake of blueberries and/or strawberries showed about one and half to two and half years of delays in cognitive aging; i.e. thinking, remembering, and reasoning. So how many berries should we eat to prevent cognitive decline? Just a half-cup of blueberries or two half-cup servings of strawberries a week.  Why berries? Berries contain flavonoids, which are plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to the study’s authors, berries contain the flavonoid anthocyanidin, which can cross the blood into the brain's seat for learning and memory, the hippocampus.

Balance blood pressure. High blood pressure has been linked to a decline in cognitive function in otherwise healthy adults… starting in their late teens! High blood pressure (or hypertension) is known as the silent killer because it has virtually no symptoms. We all think of sodium when it comes to high blood pressure but sodium isn’t entirely to blame; controlling blood pressure is about balancing minerals, especially potassium and sodium. Because many of us consume more sodium than potassium, it is important to increase the amount of potassium rich foods in our diets. Celery, Swiss chard, beet greens, lima beans, sweet potato, spinach, lentils and avocado are all rich in potassium.

Cocoa. A study from researchers based at Reading University's School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences in the UK found that consuming cocoa flavanols may improve aspects of eye and brain function. The study looked at intake of cocoa flavanols and then tested the subject's vision and cognitive performance and found that both were improved. While all chocolate contains flavonoids, it is important to choose dark chocolate with a cacao content upwards of 70 percent. The higher the cocoa percentage, the more flavanols and antioxidants it contains.

Vitamin D is undoubtedly an essential vitamin; research even demonstrates the need for vitamin D for brain health… but it cannot act alone. Study results point to both vitamins D and E in helping to keep our minds sharper. So how do we make sure to include both vitamin D and E rich foods in our diets? There are a variety of great sources of vitamin E in foods including nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds. Green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, spinach and kale provide vitamin E as well. Other great sources include papaya, olives, and avocados. Few foods are natural sources of vitamin D. Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and fish liver oils are the best sources, and vitamin D can be found in small amounts in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and some mushrooms.

A variety of healthy whole foods is key to keeping your brain (and general health) sharp. Entering the fall season means many hearty vegetables will be fresh and nutritious. Shop for what’s in season for the best bang for your buck and most nutrition for your brain!