If ever there was an aspect of life that was better suited to the phrase ‘easier in theory than in practice,’ maintaining a healthy diet has to be it. The benefits of healthy eating have long been proven by our friend science, but it’s not only the physical impact that makes it a recommended daily mantra by experts. The brain is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of a healthy diet, and so-called ‘brain food’ can supposedly make you smarter and improve memory and mood.
So whether you’re studying up for that exam or finding your way in a new job, brain food could be the deciding factor between success or mediocrity. Where can I find these miracle brain foods I hear you cry? Well fortunately we’ve compiled a list of the 5 Best Brain Foods, to show you what provides the best nutrition for your noggin and what will get that grey matter working overtime.
You might have thought it was just an old wives tale, but consuming the likes of salmon, mackerel and tuna really can improve brain function. Fish contains high levels of the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is said to be crucial in keeping a healthy nervous system. Low levels of DHA has been linked to poor memory and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Amongst other things, fish is also packed full of iodine, which while commonly confined to the walls of a school science lab, is also good in helping mental clarity and wellbeing.
Blueberries are often lauded as the ultimate brain food and it’s no surprise they’ve made it onto our list. These little purple spheres of power are full of flavonoids which are compounds that protect the memory carrying neurons in the brain from inflammation, thus helping memory function. The antioxidants can also have a positive impact on your mood, and due to the level of vitamins, they also counter the visible effects of ageing. Win-win.
If you can refrain from being so immature for a second, nuts are actually an excellent superfood for your brain. The level of vitamin E found in nuts and seeds is reported to reduce mental decline as we get older. Walnuts in particular are high in antioxidants that stop damage to brain cells while Almonds have been said to protect acetylcholine which improves learning and increases attention and awareness.
Like the rest of the body, the brain is dependent on energy to function effectively. While you may be more tempted to reach for a can of Coke and a Mars Bar, these can tend to cause a short-lived buzz before an eventual ‘crash’. Whole grains steadily release glucose into the bloodstream throughout the day, which is more likely to provide that much craved for brain energy over a longer period. Foods such as brown pasta and cereal are also good for your cardiovascular health which in turn will keep up a healthy blood flow to your vital organs, including the brain.
Before you start rushing to the shops to buy Bourneville in bulk, it’s worth considering the quality and quantity of this surprising brain food. Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase blood flow, it has also been shown to improve your mood. Much to the confusion of scientists, it’s dark chocolate of at least 70% that appears to bring about these positive effects on the brain and body. It can also prove to be a quick fix when lacking in energy, but dark chocolate can prove to be incredibly calorific so don’t overindulge.
A balanced and varied diet is ultimately the key to a healthy brain, but just incorporating these superfoods into your diet can bring about noticeable changes to your mental performance. Supplements are available, but with these foods being so easily available there’s really no excuse for not getting the best out of your brain and body.