Want to know how to improve your brain power? Yes, you can do Sudoku and go for a jog, because both are great for reducing the effects of aging on the brain. But did you know there are a few great superfoods that can improve memory, cognitive function and help you beat your friends during the next trivia night?
Research has found that the speed we age and the performance of our brains are both greatly impacted by what we ingest. Genetics does play a part, but the foods we eat, or too often, don’t eat, have a far larger impact on our body’s ability to stay healthy and perform well than we had originally thought.
The following five foods will help you think better and feel better:
Although lacking in flavor and a tad stringy, celery stalks are great for the brain because they contain luteolin, a compound believed to help with brain inflammation. Science is finding that chronic inflammation of the body is tied to all kinds of diseases and also premature aging. Thus, eating celery will help slow the aging process of your brain! If you like the crunch of celery, eat it raw with peanut butter spread inside the stalk and sprinkle raisins on top. This yummy treat affectionately known as “Ants on a Log” is a great way to get kids to start liking celery.
This spice, commonly found in Indian food, turns out to have an almost endless list of health benefits. It has been tied to improving gastrointestinal issues, and reducing the chances of getting heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Turmeric has also been found to reduce inflammation, primarily due to a compound in it called curcumin. Diseases like depression and Alzheimer’s have been linked to lower levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a type of growth hormone that helps with the formation of new neural connections in the brain. Turns out curcumin has been found to increase brain levels of BDNF. So by adding turmeric to soups and other dishes, you’ll be delaying or even reversing the effects of declining brain function.
Simple to eat and easy on the palate, tomatoes are often a favorite for adults and kids alike. Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene, which helps protect the body and brain from free radicals. According to research, the brain is actually very vulnerable to attacks from free radicals. Known for damaging healthy cells, free radicals have been tied to dementia and many other diseases, due to their ties to causing inflammation. Lycopene also helps to regulate genes that influence brain growth, so if you are suffering from bouts of forgetfulness and keep finding you put your car keys in the fridge again, a bowl of sliced tomatoes might be the brain boost you need.
If one superfood is commonly known for having great health benefits, it would be olive oil. This Mediterranean gem is great for brain function, memory and learning. Apparently, olive oil reduces the formation of plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease) in the brain while increasing brain nerve growth factor and BDNF, both of which are key players in the development, growth, and survival of brain cells.
If ever there was a perfect protein, it would be the egg. According to one Finnish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating eggs can boost brain power due to a little unknown nutrient called choline. The diets of around 2,500 men in Finland were monitored for a period of up to 22 years. Those who ate roughly the equivalent of one egg a day did not have a higher risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that the men actually performed better on certain cognitive tests in later life than men who ate eggs less often. Eggs are packed with choline, which the brain converts into acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps brain cells communicate with each other and keep memories intact.
So the next time you’re at the grocery store, add a few superfoods into your meal plan for the week and get both your body and mind performing better.