Food is often thought of something that makes you full and keeps your body filled with energy. Those of us conscious of what we eat choose certain foods based on what they can do for us and our bodies. While it is one of the lesser discussed benefits compared to foods that aid in losing weight or keeping allergies under control, there are certain foods that can specifically help out your brain and improve how it runs day-to-day. Even the sharpest among us can benefit from a little extra help food wise; here are eight great brain boosting foods:
Seeds as snacks or additions to meals have been gaining popularity lately and it’s for a good reason. Pumpkin seeds are especially popular in the Fall, of course, but there are many reasons to be eating them year round. They can help to support healthy brain development and improve your mental health even if you are only eating a handful at a time. The seeds also help to boost your memory power while simultaneously working to calm your nerves — so the next time you are studying for a test or something that relies on memory, have a stash near by.
Sardines aren’t going to win any contest for most popular food ever, but there’s good reason to start working them into your diet even if they aren’t usually something you would think about eating. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, a fatty acid that is very good for your overall health. Similarly to pumpkin seeds, sardines aid in improving your memory and brain performance. They also help you to focus, so if you find yourself having a short attention span, sardines might become your new best food-friend.
Beets have seen a rise in popularity this year, from people roasting them in the oven as a snack to adding beet juice to smoothies to using it as a natural food coloring in cakes and frostings. While a brain boost might not be the sole reason behind the surge in popularity, it is certainly an upside and possible factor in it. Beets help your overall cognitive brain function (meaning they help to keep your brain on track and working as it should) and can also fight dementia in the long-term. As a bonus, studies have shown that beet juices’ benefits appear in young people quickly — so no having to drink 8 oz. of beet juice a day for 6 months in order to see just a small amount of improvement — it should happen pretty quickly.
Peppermint isn’t often first thought of as a food, but more of a flavor or a garnish. However, the mint itself has enough benefits that it should be given first billing on the brain improvement call sheet. The smell of peppermint has been shown to heighten overall mental alertness and improve mood. I personally keep peppermint essential oil around for this reason specifically and can attest to it “waking” me up and clearing my head. Mint stimulates the hippocampus (aka your brain’s control center) which helps to make you more motivated and less tired and irritable. Can’t we all use any help we can get in this department?
Lentils are a key component of many vegetarian’s diets. They are not only filling and but they contain many benefits due to their combination of different vitamins. One of these vitamins is folate, which is necessary for our body and brain to run smoothly. Another nutrient lentils have a lot of is glucose, which is a sugar our body needs and is our brain’s main source of energy. They also contain fiber which, in addition to keeping our bodies full, helps to regulate the release of the aforementioned glucose in a timely way, keeping our brains and bodies as stable as possible.
A largely forgotten vegetable in my experience, celery may shock you with its health benefits and have you considering reaching for it the next time you need a snack. It contains luteolin, which is a powerful nutrient that aids in brain performance. Studies have linked it to lowering cancer risk and fighting aging. Celery also is an anti-inflammatory for the brain — which can help clear up that “mental fog” feeling that we unfortunately all experience — and the body, which can help to relive joint pain. Thanks to the luteolin, celery is another food that helps to boost your memory performance, so it’s a snack to consider if you need something to pep you up while studying.
Maca has been around for a very long time but has seen a surge in popularity very recently. It’s now being put into lattes, smoothies, and even baked goods. You can eat it in powder form which makes it very versatile and makes it an easy addition to many different recipes. Maca can help relieve a few different brain struggles such as stress, anxiety and sudden mood swings. It also helps you to increase your focus and improve your overall brain cognitive functions, making it a good addition to your daily smoothie.
Any brain boosting foods you particularly like?
Featured image is from Jesse Orrico.