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February 6, 2014

5 Foods for a Healthy Brain

Here are five foods which can help to keep your boost your brain power and maintain its healthiness. They are fairly easy to incorporate into your diet and chocolate is one of them, yes!

Berries

Blueberries, in particular, can help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. An animal study, carried out on rats, found that consuming berries improved their learning capacity and motor skills, making the older, mentally equivalent to the younger ones. A study carried out on humans, published in the Annals of Neurology, found that a diet high in berries was linked to slower mental decline in areas like memory and focus.

Avocados

Avocados are high in mono-saturated fat, which contributes to a healthy blood flow; healthy blood flow = healthy brain. They can also help to lower blood pressure; high blood pressure being a risk factor for decline in cognitive abilities. They are rich in a fatty acid called oleic, which helps to build a coating of insulation, found in white matter of the brain. This coating is called Myelin and can help information travel at speeds of up to 200mph.

Spinach

Spinach is a source of folate, a type of Vitamin B, which helps the brain maintain a healthy circulation by preventing a build-up of plaque. It is also rich in the antioxidant ‘lutein’, thought to help protect against cognitive decline. A study by Harvard Medical School found that those who ate more leafy green and cruciferous vegetables had a lower rate of cognitive decline compared with those who ate less.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties and also includes several natural stimulants, including caffeine, which enhances focus and concentration. Dark chocolate is also rich in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, which helps to improve blood flow, the benefits of which were already mentioned. However, it must be enjoyed in moderation, with the recommended amount being a half ounce  to 1 ounce per day, enough to provide the benefits discussed.

Fish

Fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are thought to boost our brains due to fatty omega 3 acids, which can be found in all. These fatty acids have been linked to lower risk of dementia as well as improved focus and memory. A study by UCLA researchers showed that a diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking capabilities

Although the known effects of these foods on cognitive decline, is still relatively undefined, keeping a healthy brain can only be a positive thing. Before incorporating these foods into your diet, it is suggested that you research the recommended daily intake for each, as some should only be consumed in moderation, to achieve the full benefits they offer.

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