Most people make a direct association between what they eat and their physical health. But overall brainpower also depends on our diet. This is because what we eat has a direct impact on our memory and ability to focus.
Our brain ages with us, so it is important to pay equal attention to the nutrients we feed our brain so it can continue to stay in top form.
Here are the top four foods that help maintain the healthy cognitive function of our brains so we can stay alert at any age.
This nut offers a wide range of highly beneficial nutrients such as Vitamin E, antioxidants and minerals to keep your brain healthy and strong.
In fact, the benefits of walnuts is well-documented in The American Journal of Epidemiology, which points out that Vitamin E is an important component in maintaining cognitive function.
Walnuts are also good for your heart as it reduces the risk of heart attacks by reducing LDL levels – a cholesterol that clogs up blood vessels.
INTERESTING FACT: The skin of a walnut contains almost 90% of its antioxidant properties. Apart from eating walnuts on its own, you could also crush it and sprinkle liberally over salads or smoothies.
Besides tasting heavenly, dark chocolate contains a wide range of organic nutrients. It’s important however to eat in moderation as too much of a good thing can turn bad.
Dark chocolate also contains flavonoids, a substance that improves brainpower. Flavonoids are a powerhouse of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.
This begs the question: How do antioxidants help in brain function? Our brain consumes roughly 20% of the body’s intake of oxygen, and is the most at risk of free radical oxygen damage.
When a sliced apple is left out in the open, it turns a brownish-yellow. That’s the impact of free radicals at work. So imagine the damage free radicals can do to our brains. In an article published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, it is stated that antioxidants act as a guard, minimising the damage of free radicals to our brain and maintaining the organ’s cognitive functions.
INTERESTING FACT: The New England Journal of Medicine has pointed out an interesting correlation between chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel laureates. To put it simply, the higher a country’s chocolate consumption, the greater the number of Nobel laureates it will likely produce.
Modern society fears the word “fat”. But not all fats are bad for our health. Some fats such as omega-3 fats, which salmon offers in the form of beneficial DHA (active form), are crucial for healthy brain function.
DHA also helps balance the stress levels in our body as it regulates the production of serotonin, a mood hormone.
Research also shows that a person with a low DHA level is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. When the brain lacks fatty acids for growth, it will substitute it with “replacement fatty acids”, which are harmful. For vegetarians, omega-3 fat can be sourced from pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and more.
INTERESTING FACT: If sushi doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always opt for cooked salmon. The heat from cooking also stops an enzyme that breaks down Vitamin B1 in salmon, which are neuroprotective.
There are many advantages to consuming wholegrains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and wholegrain breads and pastas.
These foods provide energy in the form of glucose to sustain our body’s daily functions which includes the brain’s ability to concentrate and focus.
Just like fats, there are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. Wholegrains fortunately, are the good guys. Unlike other forms of carbohydrates, wholegrains promote a slower release of glucose in our body, hence minimising the chance of a sudden spike of sugar in the blood.
INTERESTING FACT: A diet of wholegrain meals will ensure you stay fuller for longer because our bodies take a longer time to digest it. It could therefore be a welcome addition to any diet plan.
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