By Rashmi Cherian
Do we need to eat for our brain to function well? Answer is YES, we need to eat for our gray matter. We all have had days when we just find it difficult to concentrate. With a hungry brain its difficult to be happy, mentally sharp & productive. There are some nutrients & foods that can super charge our brain & can improve our cognitive function. They can make us happy & protect us from brain ageing and degenerative brain diseases. Want to know which brain superfoods these are? Let’s find out below!
Walnuts are brain boosting super foods as they are rich in specific antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids (particularly DHA) which helps in improving cognition & mood. Walnuts are also know to improve serotonin level which is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness & mood. Walnuts also contain memory-protective vitamin B6 and magnesium. One study on adults of all ages found that eating walnuts improved reaction time, learning, and memory recall. RECOMMENED INTAKE – 1 Tablespoon of walnuts / day is enough for brain health. It can be consumed as a snack or can be added to salads.
2. FATTY FISH
The most effective omega 3, EPA & DHA are found in fatty & oily fishes like Salmon, Mackerel, Trout, Herring, Sardines etc. Omega 3 helps to reduce inflammation & increase blood flow to the brain. RECOMMENED INTAKE – It is recommended to include at least 300 – 350 g of these fatty fishes per week.
Eggs are an excellent super food for the brain as they are rich in proteins, certain B vitamins – B6, B12, folic acid and No 1 food source of choline, which plays an important role in memory & learning. Eggs are also high in tryptophan, which is the building block for Serotonin. RECOMMENED INTAKE – There is no general rule for number of eggs to be consumed but on an average 2 – 6 eggs / week can be consumed.
Avocadoes are the only fruits containing 75% of the monounsaturated fats, the same one found in olive oil. These fats support the production of brain chemical, acetylcholine. Avocadoes are also rich in Vitamin K & folate which are essential for brain health, cognitive function & memory. RECOMMENED INTAKE – There is no RDA for avocado consumption but a person can consume ½ avocado at a time.
5. DARK LEAFY GREENS
According to research from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), regular intake of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and swiss chard can help protect the brain from cognitive decline and dementia as these leafy greens are loaded with nutrients like folate, magnesium & Vitamins E & K. RECOMMENDED INTAKE – These leafy greens cab be a regular part of diet.
If you would like to know more about superfoods for overall health and wellness, you should definitely buy Rujuta Diwekar’s book ‘Indian Superfoods: Change the Way You Eat’.
New research in the Genesis journal reveals that broccoli contains sulforaphane, which has been shown to promote the growth and repair of brain tissue. It is a great source of Vitamin K and is high in compounds called glucosinolates which slows the break down of acetylcholine, required for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. RECOMMENDED INTAKE – 1 cup broccoli 2 – 3 times a week will help in increasing brain power.
Beets are rich in nitrates which help in blood flow to the body which in turn improve mental sharpness & performance. A study from the Department of Pharmacology, Bio-analytical Research Laboratory in India also found that beetroot can also significantly impact and reduce stress-induced ‘neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression’, by reducing and preventing oxidative stress in the body. RECOMMENDED INTAKE – Beets can be added to salads or can be consumed as a juice on regular basis.
Celery contains luteolin, a compound that reduces inflammation & protect from neuro degeneration. Studies from the Institute of Human Genetics in Regensburg, Germany have shown that luteolin may be a ‘promising candidate to develop immuno-modulatory and neuroprotective therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.” RECOMMENDED INTAKE – It can be a great snack option. Celery juice can be consumed on a regular basis for lot other health benefits.
9. GREEN TEA
The latest studies show that green tea can enhance cognitive function & treat dementia. Studies have also found that people who drink green tea have better focus & concentration & less likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease. RECOMMENDED INTAKE – Include 2 – 3 cups of freshly brewed green tea every day to reap the benefits.
10. DARK CHOCOLATE
A study published in the Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews journal found that dark chocolate is a superfood due to its high levels of flavanols, which help in increasing cognitive function & memory. They are also rich in polyphenols, which help to reduce depression & anxiety. RECOMMENDED INTAKE – Always opt for 70% or above cocoa & consume only 1 – 2 squares per day.
Share this article with your friends who are in mentally strenuous jobs or studies, and will benefit from this knowledge of brain superfoods.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to read more awesome articles on nutrition and well-being, check out our section on Nutrition Inspiration.
About the Author
Rashmi Cherian is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Food & Nutrition and a Certified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist. She has been providing nutritional counselling for almost a decade, displaying a vast diversity of clientele seeking her expertise. A leading Sports Nutritionist, Rashmi works with a wide variety of professional and amateur athletes in swimming, tennis, badminton, triathlon, cycling, football, basketball, cricket, golf, go karting etc. She teaches them how to have more energy, lose undesired body fat, enjoy a winning sports diet—and feel confident bout their food choices.
She currently serves as the Official Sports Nutritionist for Birel Art. As Rashmi’s love for helping other’s continued to grow, she decided to open WELLNESS VOWS Nutrition Clinic, which focusses on overall wellness, sports nutrition, weight imbalances, lifestyle disorders, auto immune diseases etc. Rashmi has been a key note speaker at conferences, lectures, sports academies, schools and corporations across the country. Two of her research papers have been published in international journals – “Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry” and “Nutritional Neuroscience”.
Rashmi’s nutrition philosophy is one that looks at the total person. She believes “If YOU take care of your body, it will take care of you.” Outside of her work, Rashmi loves cooking, is a fitness freak and a proud mother of a young boy. You can contact Rashmi on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. She can also be reached on email@example.com