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Dietitian Approved: Best Foods for Brain Power

You know that eating a healthy diet is good for your body, but did you realize that it is just as important for your mind? The brain requires nutrients to function, just like our muscles, heart, and lungs.

Certain foods are particularly important to keep our minds operating at peak function. Some help provide a short-term memory boost while others are essential for long-term brain health, improved memory, and alertness. For optimal brain power, incorporate these ten foods into your diet.

Whole Grains

Your brain runs on glucose, which comes from the breakdown of carbohydrates. A steady supply of energy, in the form of glucose, helps you concentrate and focus. Whole grains are high in fiber and digest slowly, releasing glucose more slowly into the bloodstream and keeping you sharp for several hours. Try oatmeal, brown rice, farro, quinoa, wheat germ or barley.

Fatty Fish

The omega-3 fats and vitamin D found in salmon, herring and sardines work to keep your brain in tip-top shape. Omega-3 fats DHA and EPA are needed for optimal brain function while vitamin D helps protect the brain. Plus, research done at Tufts University found that people who ate fatty fish three times a week decreased their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by almost 40%.

Blueberries

This antioxidant-packed fruit helps protect the brain from oxidative stress and boosts memory. Eating two half-cup servings of blueberries per week has been linked to lower risk of age-related memory loss and improved short-term memory. Choose fresh, frozen or dried berries and reap the berry benefits.

Nuts and Seeds

These nutrition powerhouses are a good source of vitamin E, which may help to delay cognitive decline as you age. Nuts are also linked to lower rates of depression. Add an ounce of nuts or seeds to your diet each day: try walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Avocados

The monounsaturated fat in avocados reduces plaque buildup in our arteries and helps promote better blood flow. This allows more nutrients to reach the brain and boosts our brain power. Try these 5 awesome avocado recipes.

Olive oil

Olive oil contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that can prevent and possibly reverse disease and age-related memory loss. Extra virgin olive oil has been linked to improved learning and memory. Swap saturated fat for mono and polyunsaturated fat (like the kind found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados) and lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Leafy greens

Green leafy vegetables like spinach and romaine contain folate, a B-vitamin that helps to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that keeps you calm. A study at Harvard Medical School found that women who ate the most leafy green vegetables had slower rates of cognitive decline.

Legumes and lentils

Similar to leafy greens, these plant-based proteins are packed with folate. Legumes and lentils are also a good source of slow-digesting glucose, providing the brain with a steady source of fuel. Try these 6 tasty chickpea recipes, and find beans and lentils in these entrees and burritos.

Dark chocolate

This sweet treat is packed with powerful antioxidants that help regulate stress levels and stimulate the production of endorphins. Dark chocolate contains caffeine, which contributes to concentration and focus. Be sure to choose a variety that is at least 70% cocoa to reap the most benefits and enjoy up to one ounce per day

Coffee

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that improves our ability to concentrate, focus, and react quickly. One cup of coffee can provide a short-term memory boost and help you concentrate better. Coffee intake can also decrease the risk of age-associated memory loss.

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