We are all born with intelligence quotients, and there is only so much we can do about it to keep our brains active and alert by solving puzzles and games, but there are certain foods that are known as brain foods. They help in improving certain brain functions such as memory, concentration and alertness due to their constituents and reactions with certain hormones or enzymes. They may help to give nutrients to your brain cells or increase neurotransmitter function, help in neuron branching or protecting cells from damage and deterioration due to ageing. Certain classification of foods contain the necessary nutrients for brain growth and function but only certain foods can be classified as brain foods whose major constituents serve as brain fodder and the top ten foods that help to boost brain function are:
Unlikely and quite surprising, but the very common tomatoes are actually very good fodder for the brain. They contain carotenoids which protect fat in the body especially brain fat .These carotenoids can be classified into two major types lycopene and beta carotene, which are important antioxidants protecting the brain from damage. Studies regarding brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s have established that patients with Alzheimer’s have lower levels of carotenoids in their blood. So a sandwich a day could actually be food for your brain, keeping it young and healthy. Cooking and processing as well as in paste form, tomatoes can increase availability of lycopene
9. Wheat germ
Rich in vitamin E and selenium, wheat germ is an important brain food. Apart from these nutrients wheat germ is also a powerhouse of many major nutrients such as choline and magnesium which are known for being highly powerful antioxidants which are brain protectors. they safeguard your brain from harmful effects of free radicals.They also help in reducing harmful inflammation by reducing the levels of an amino acid called homocysteine which is released due to excess inflammation in the body.
8.Green leafy vegetables
We have all been forcibly fed green vegetables since childhood because of their health benefits but apart from their physical benefits, they help your brains as well. Most green vegetables have different effects on the brain but they are common in their effect that they are rich in antioxidants, isothiocyanates and indoles which not only protects the brain from injury and harmful free radicals, but also fight cancer cells and prevent ageing. Broccoli and spinach especially promote brain health and protection. Dark leafy vegetables help in reducing the risks of Dementia with cabbages and root vegetables being the most potent. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and folate, a B vitamin which helps keep the brain young and more active.
A treasure of nutrients, avocados are long known to improve brain functioning apart from helping in blood flow which is good for the body’s metabolism as well as that of the brain since it helps to improve concentration. Their reputation is marred for most weight watchers due to the label of being fatty, but the fact of the matter is they are good fats, the kind of fats that are very good for your brain. It keeps the brain flexible by virtue of its high concentration of unsaturated fats. It protects nerve cells and improves the body’s ability to control muscles making them brain fuel. The oil extracted from avocados are credited with preventing stroke by keeping the blood pressure under control, and its leaf extracts can act as seizure reduction agents.
6. Dark chocolate
To all chocolate lovers, it comes as a great news that eating dark chocolate can help in improving cognitive ability, so it is a perfect mixture of dessert and brain food rolled into one. It helps in improving the flow of blood which helps in better brain functioning and improving its overall health. Researchers call this neurovascular coupling, a concept which links memory and thinking skills to the flow of blood. This is attributed to chocolate’s major constituent cocoa which is rich in flavonols. Therefore the huge rush that you experience after having chocolate drink, it greatly increases the flow of blood in the brain and also boosts general activity immediately following its consumption. Flavonols help to reduce brain ageing and fight against fatigue effects on the brain. Loaded with antioxidants, it protects the brain from damage and ageing.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Called a super food due to the high concentration of nutrition it possesses, pumpkin seed makes for great brain food. High in fiber, manganese, iron, zinc and protein content it can satisfy almost half the daily requirement of many important minerals. They are rich in omega 3 and omega 6 acids which help in brain activity boosting and the magnesium content helps to calm the brain, hence acts as a natural anti depressant. Improving concentration and mental performance are also one of the reasons pumpkin seeds are commonly used as snack food during the exam season!
Soft, sweet and savoury, a medicinal herb which has been traditionally used to reduce swelling from joint pains and sprains as well as relieving anxiety in aromatherapy, it is very popular as healthy food for the brain. It is made majorly of terpenoids which act as the brain support compound. It basically inhibits production of those enzymes which break down acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that helps with judgement and memory. Apart from that, it has been shown to improve the supply of oxygen to the cerebral cortex thus boosting cognitive function. The best ways to obtain the maximum health benefits from this herb is in the form of sage oil, which is easily accessible and can be sprinkled on any food.
It is believed that berries help in memory improvement and in preventing ageing of the brain, hence the recent research for preventing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is being performed using blueberries. Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are rich in flavonoids and anthocyanidins which are strong antioxidants that help in delaying ageing. Antioxidants are also credited with protecting the brain from damage by free radicals and prevent inflammation. Small trials have proved that flavonoid rich fruit juices help in boosting brain performance, and also interact with enzymes to reduce ageing effects. Similarly anthocyanins neutralize free radicals. It is also believed that berries help in cleaning the brain off its accumulated toxins and helped in measured high on brain related functions such as memory as well as coordination and according to a research as the results of the experiments done on rats.
2. Oily fish
Known for making your skin smooth and supple, fish are also credited with boosting brain power. They are packed with omega 3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA and ALA) which are essential fatty acids and required for normal functioning of the body. DHA obtained through consumption of fishes or foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids is vital for the grey matter of the brain as well as for neurotransmission. There is evidence to support that EPA supplements help in case of depression as well as studies that suggest that risks of developing brain diseases such as dementia can be reduced by the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids, though not with conclusive evidence. Hence fish is considered a brain food, greatly contributing to improving memory and thinking. Though there have been recent reports that say that fish does not really have any effect on the brain function, omega 3 fatty acids do help out since they provide the nourishment to repair.
You remember your mom giving you overnight soaked almonds with your breakfast, claiming it will make you smarter? That may not be false after all, since nuts though high in calories, are believed to improve cognitive capabilities. Walnuts are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids with a high concentration of DHA and instrumental in protecting brain health for babies, and improving brain function. It also helps to promote the natural waste excretion of the brain and boost the anti inflammatatory functions. Hazelnuts and almonds, mostly known for keeping the cholesterol levels low are rich in vitamin E which helps to protect the brain from decline due to ageing, as well as improving memory and verbal skills. Almonds especially are believed to help with Alzheimer’s patients in restoring their memory. Pistachios research suggests that they can help in protecting the brain from injury due to their anti inflammatory properties. Though there has not been any proof or studies to validate the results, other nuts such as chestnuts, pecans and cashews are also consumed as brain foods.