Did you know that 20% of your calories go to your brain? That's a significant amount of energy, considering that the brain is only one of the 78 organs in your body. The human brain needs constant power to function normally, and consuming superfoods for the brain may help keep it sharp. Discover how to feed your brain with this comprehensive guide.
The Bottom Line
- What nutrients may support brain health? – Vitamin B, vitamin E, omega-3, choline, and antioxidants are some of the many nutrients that can support brain health.
- What are the best superfoods for the brain? – Turmeric, nuts, whole grains, fish, eggs, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, green tea, and green vegetables made our list.
- What are some lifestyle changes you can make to support brain health? – Prioritizing sleep, managing your weight, socializing, decreasing your alcohol and nicotine usage, and keeping your body and mind active are all ways to support brain health in addition to a balanced diet.
9 Best Superfoods for the Brain
The best brain foods come from natural ingredients full of powerful nutrients. If you eat the following superfoods mindfully and strategically, you may support your overall brain health.
Turmeric is more than a tasty golden food coloring and spice. It contains curcumin, which is among the best superfoods for the brain. Studies have shown that curcumin moves easily through the blood-brain barrier, which may help increase serotonin and dopamine, aid memory, and affect brain cell growth.
The best way to support brain health with turmeric is through supplements. Of course, you can add turmeric to your food and beverages, but it contains only 6% of curcumin, which is generally considered inadequate to notice an effect.
Superfoods for the brain can also be crunchy and delicious, making peanuts, walnuts, and almonds great additions to your diet. These nuts contain vitamin E, which may support cognition and help with brain-related conditions, although more research is needed. In addition, nuts have healthy fats and compounds that are good for memory function.
A handful of nuts in your protein shake, smoothie, yogurt, salad, or stir-fry boosts nutrients and flavor. They're also great as everyday snacks, but watch your portions to manage your calorie count.
3. Whole Grains
Another source of vitamin E is whole-grain foods. Choose whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, and barley over their processed counterparts to maximize their nutritional value for your brain.
Milling removes the nutrient-rich core of the grains to make more affordable flour that lasts longer in stores and is easier to cook. Whole grains lose fewer nutrients, making them better for your overall health and brain function, as some studies have begun to explain.
Sardines, trout, salmon, and tuna are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. For plant-based alternatives, consider adding soybeans, chia seeds, and flaxseed to your diet. Individuals with low omega-3 intake may struggle with memory, depression, and learning challenges. Increasing omega-3 intake has the potential to aid your nervous system, mood disorders, and mental decline.
Eggs are superfoods for the brain because they have crucial brain nutrients, including vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and choline. Some studies have suggested eggs support brain health, especially in healthy older adults. In addition, eggs may support your brain in the following ways:
- Regulated mood and memory by generating neurotransmitters
- Maintaining chemical balance in the brain
- Potentially reducing some of the effects of aging on the brain
Choline is worth noting as most people don't get enough of it in their diets. Experts recommend 550mg and 425mg of choline daily for men and women. However, one egg yolk has 112mg of this nutrient, which means you can consume up to 5 eggs per day. If you have dietary restrictions or allergies or have limited access to them, a green powder supplement may help reach your intake requirements instead.
Berries have a host of potential benefits, but blueberries are at the top of the antioxidant list. They contain anthocyanins, which fight inflammation in the body. Add blueberries to smoothies and cereal, or eat them as a calorie-free snack. Eating more blueberries can assist your brain by supporting memory loss, tissue damage from oxidative stress, and the risk of age-related mental decline.
7. Pumpkin Seeds
Remember that the brain's composition includes minerals that help create hormones and enzymes. Pumpkin seeds contain essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper. These minerals play a role in preventing brain fog, controlling nerve signals, and supporting learning and memory.
Consuming pumpkin seeds and other minerals from whole foods and supplements may help with brain-related conditions like depression, migraines, and more.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is a brain-supporting beverage not just because of its caffeine content. It contains L-theanine, an amino acid known to reduce anxiety and help you relax. It may counter the stimulating effects of caffeine in green tea and calm the brain. The polyphenols in green tea may also help fight inflammation in your brain and body. You can take green tea as a simple hot brew sweetened with honey or as a base for smoothies and iced drinks.
9. Leafy Greens
All vegetables can make healthy and nutritious additions to your diet, but leafy greens like kale and spinach have vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids, which combine to support your immunity, healthy stress levels, and fight against age-related brain diseases.
The Brain Explained
Here are some essential facts about the brain that you should know:
- An adult's brain weighs three pounds (about 1.36 kilograms), or 2% of body weight.
- The brain is not a muscle; it's 60% fat, 40% protein, water, minerals, and carbohydrates.
- Brain tissue contains blood vessels and nerves that extend to the spinal cord to create the central nervous system.
- The brain is the body's control center, processing signals that determine speech, breathing, learning, movement, heartbeat, hormones, vision, etc.
- Brain foods contain nutrients that nurture brain cells (neurons), cell membranes, and molecules that support cognition.
Which Nutrients Support Brain Health?
It's vital to choose high-quality foods rich in nutrients for your overall well-being. However, the brain loves certain foods that support its structure and functions. Look for superfoods for the brain containing the following healthy compounds:
- Vitamin B aids metabolism and creates new brain cells.
- Vitamin E supports healthy immunity and cell signaling.
- Omega-3 fatty acids help memory and depression.
- Choline supports cell structures and neurotransmitters in the brain.
- Antioxidants protect cells from harmful free radicals linked to brain inflammation and memory loss.
A Holistic Approach to Superfoods for The Brain
These superfoods for the brain are only one part of supporting brain health and your overall nutrition. The other part of the equation is to support your diet with beneficial lifestyle choices. Here are the top five proven ways to maintain excellent physical and mental shape.
An Active Mind and Body
To stimulate your neurons, challenge your brain with activities like arts and crafts, math problems, and puzzles. Keep your brain engaged in generating new, healthy cells that sharpen your focus, memory, and learning abilities. Physical exercise also contributes to a healthy brain by regulating stress, increasing oxygen intake and blood flow, and helping overall bodily functions.
Prioritize Your Sleep
Sleep is not a luxury but essential to having a healthy brain. When you're sleep-deprived, you feel fatigued and lose focus. Worse, you increase the chances of serious health conditions. Be sure to sleep for at least seven hours daily to improve your quality of life.
Limit Smoking and Drinking
The addictive nature of tobacco and alcohol makes these drugs challenging to quit. However, they also heighten your risk of long-term health concerns. Given these choices, it's infinitely better to reduce and ultimately stop these harmful habits for the sake of good health.
Social distancing, fear, and stigma made socializing difficult, if not impossible, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even still, we should find every opportunity to build social connections. Meeting new people, engaging with our communities, and spending family time all contribute to a healthy brain.
Manage Your Weight
Great health means maintaining your optimum weight, which is easier said than done. Make a conscious effort to eat nutritious foods, manage stress, and sleep enough hours to keep your weight consistent. If the diet is challenging, consider taking a green superfood powder in your food and beverages to ensure you’re getting enough nutrition. If exercise is a challenge, try low-impact activities like walking, gardening, or doing household chores. Stay mindful of your weight, and your brain will reward you.
Fortify Your Superfoods for The Brain with Live it Up Super Greens
Adjusting your balanced diet to incorporate nutrient-dense superfoods could positively affect brain health, performance, and potentially even mood. A great way to supplement these superfoods for the brain is with a leafy greens powder like Live it Up Super Greens.
This superfood blend can fit many diets and lifestyle preferences and is free of artificial flavorings, colors, and sweeteners. It’s gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, and third-party tested for ingredient quality. You can add Live it Up Super Greens to most liquids, including water, oat milk, regular milk, almond milk, or orange juice to create a superfood smoothie, or you can get creative and even add it to soups and salads.