When we think about food, we usually think about our stomachs. But considering our brains use up about 20 percent of our body’s energy, our noggins need to stay nourished above all. Most people know that filling up on junk food and soda isn’t going to provide a lasting supply of energy; in fact, you’re likely to crash after a few hours. However, based on scientific research, these eight brain foods can help boost your productivity throughout the day, and even have lasting benefits throughout your life.
Scientists in New Zealand from Plant & Food Research collaborated with researchers from Northumbria University to study the cognitive benefits of blackcurrants. The findings, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, revealed that the berries decrease mental fatigue and improve accuracy, attention, and mood.
Of course, it’s important to eat your greens. But broccoli can offer more brain benefits than you might think. According to a 2005 study by researchers at King’s College London, broccoli contains a substance that acts in the same way as drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s. The veggie is high in lignans (a compound that’s been shown to benefit cognitive skills), and can boost thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining, and learning new words.
Broccoli also contains Choline, a nutrient associated with improved memory. According to The Telegraph, people who eat lots of broccoli perform better on memory tests.
Not the tastiest one on the list, but your brain will thank you for drinking it. Researchers from the Translational Science Center at Wake Forest University found that drinking beet juice increases blood flow to the white matter of the brain’s frontal lobes, which could help combat dementia.
While many people know about garlic’s supposed vampire-repelling qualities, most are unaware that it contains the carbohydrate "fructosyl arginine," also known as FruArg. According to a new study published in PLOS ONE, FruArg protects the brain from age-related diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As you age, garlic could potentially prevent brain function loss and improve memory and certain cognitive functions.
Garlic may not be great for the breath, but it’s good for the brain.
Scientists from the Third Military Medical University in China found an organic chemical in green tea, EGCG or epigallocatechin gallate, which helps combat degenerative diseases and memory loss. Further, it can enhance learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory. The tasty drink even boosts cell generation in the brain, according to the study’s findings.
According to Scientific American, blueberries contain compounds known as flavonoids, which improve reasoning skills, decision making, verbal comprehension, and numerical ability. In addition to this emerging research on the cognitive benefits of blueberries, flavonoids may also help slow down the decline in mental abilities associated with old age.
A study on cocoa and cognition found that cocoa can improve various cognitive functions and verbal fluency in elderly people, but there’s even better news. Another study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that eating a portion of dark chocolate every day has been found to improve blood flow to the brain.
According to a German study published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy, a compound found in turmeric, the spice commonly found in curries, could stimulate the growth of nerve cells and act as part of the brain’s repair kit.
Interestingly, another study published in the National Center for Biotechnology indicates that turmeric, an active chemical in curcumin, can encourage the birth of new brain cells. This new neuron production, particularly in the hippocampus, is critical for learning, memory, and mood.
Maintaining our cognitive functions like memory and focus are essential for our everyday lives, so replacing any unhealthy breakfast and lunch rituals with these brain foods could improve your brain’s productivity. Not to mention, the lifelong brain benefits are pretty snazzy too.
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