7 Brain-Power Foods

  • Food for Thought

    Drink your milk, it will grow strong bones! Eat your carrots, they’ll give you great eyesight! Eat your omega-3 fatty acids, they’ll prevent dementia! That last one hasn’t quite made it into the pantheon of dinnertime nutritional tips, but maybe it should. Omega-3s, found in some fish and nuts, have been largely found to improve both heart and brain health. And that’s just one of many food products that may help your brain work better. Here are a few more to work into your diet if you’re feeling a little mentally sluggish these days. Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • Fish

    This is where those omega-3s come in. In addition to decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, it’s thought that a diet rich in omega-3s may ward off the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. And there’s no greater source of omega-3s than fish, especially oily fish like salmon. Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • Walnuts

    Fish don’t have the omega-3 market cornered, though. Victoria Shanta Retelny, a registered dietitian, recommends a diet rich in walnuts, which are also rich with the brain-boosting chemical. Indeed, one study found that making walnuts part of your diet could actually slow down brain aging. And it’s probably a coincidence, but walnuts look an awful lot like little brains. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Egg Yolks
  • Egg Yolks

    Yolks sometime get a bad rap, and some people even go so far as to toss out the cholesterol-heavy yolk in favor of the high-protein egg whites. But the yolk has a role to play, too. “The yolk of an egg has choline, which is supposed to boost brain function,” says Sharon Richter, a registered dietitian. Indeed, studies suggest that choline deficiencies contribute to neurological disorders, and pregnant and nursing women in particular need choline to help their child’s brain development. Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • Blueberries

    The same scientists touting the brain-boosting benefits of walnuts also found that blueberries helped reverse brain aging in rats. The secret weapon here is antioxidants, which are said to absorb the “free radicals” that wreak havoc on your body and brain. Similar findings have launched a thousand antioxidant-based products, from pomegranate juice to blueberry extract, claiming a range of health benefits. Still, antioxidants have their dissenters, and some research even suggests that antioxidants do more harm than good. Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • Spinach

    Richter says that folic acid, a B vitamin found in dark, leafy greens like spinach and Brussels sprouts, may be good for your noggin. And research backs up that assertion: One study by Dutch scientists observed that older people who took folic acid supplements performed better on memory and cognitive speed tests. And if you don’t like spinach, don’t worry – it’s also found in strawberries and oranges. Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • Coffee

    Good news for you caffeine junkies – the same stuff that wakes you up in the morning also boosts your brain function. “There’s research into caffeine and cognitive function that finds that around three cups a day has some [cognitive] benefit,” says Retelny. Indeed, a study conducted a few years back by Austrian scientists used a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI) to analyze how caffeine impacts the brain’s electrical activity. After a couple cups of joe, the subjects had increased activity in the regions of the brain that control short-term memory and attention. So if you find yourself scatterbrained at work, consider adding coffee to your morning routine. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Greek Food
  • Greek Food

    A study presented last year to the American Academy of Neurology found that the Mediterranean diet, with its intake of olive oil, legumes and moderate amounts of alcohol (plus low levels of saturated fat and meat), is good for your brain. How good? Using fMRI machines, researchers found that those closely following a Mediterranean diet were 36% less likely to have the kind of small brain damage that leads to thinking problems. Photo Credit: Getty Images
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