Your brain is the powerhouse of your body. It is vital to keep your brain in tip-top condition. When you eat the right foods, you improve your brain’s short and long-term function. You will also enhance your memory and ability to concentrate on tasks.
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As the most crucial organ in the human body, the brain uses 20% of the body’s calories. It is responsible for our nervous system, our reactions, and it facilitates our cognitive functionality.
You may think fish is the only brain food out there. It is high in Omega 3 and antioxidants that boost your brain, providing the protein it needs. But there are so many more foods that are also really good. This article looks at seven foods you need to incorporate into your diet to spring your brain into action!
Oily fish is high in omega-3 and fatty acids. These are the essential ingredients and nutrients your brain needs to stay healthy. 60% of your brain is made of fat, half of which is omega-3. One study showed that people who regularly ate oily fish show more grey matter in their brains. Grey matter is essential as it contains most of the nerve cells that control decision making, memory and emotion.
Some fish that are the highest in omega-3 and fatty acids are:
These fish are great ingredients for simple recipes and are easy to include in your daily diet. Roast any of these fish with a quartered onion, vine tomatoes, and a generous glug of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper for the perfect lunch or dinner. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and lycopene. You can eat the leftovers cold in a salad with fresh tomato, spinach and feta cheese. To add even more brain goodness to your diet, add diced avocado to the salad. Avocado is also high on the list of brain foods.
We spoke to Ben Hamilton from Hamiltons Fish, who told Health Times: "Oily fish are full of health benefits and are just perfect when cooking outside with friends and family. The high natural oil content of fish such as Salmon, Trout and Sardines work so well when cooked on the barbecue. Cornish Sardines in particular are full of flavour and are so quick and easy to cook, taking only three minutes each side."
Avocados are the perfect source of the nutrients your brain needs. They are packed with natural, unsaturated fats. These fats help to reduce high blood pressure; therefore, the unsaturated fats in avocados may lower the risk of cognitive decline.
Avocados are a versatile ingredient. Despite being yummy, jam-packed with nutrients and one of the top superfoods, they are also great for greening-up almost any dish. Making guacamole with fresh avos serves as the perfect dip for carrots, celery and cucumber. You can also drizzle this avocado dip over prawns for a decadent lunch-time starter.
As mentioned above, tomatoes have a high concentration of lycopene. This powerful antioxidant could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells that occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.
In addition to adding tomatoes to fish dishes, there are great recipes that consist of almost solely tomatoes. Pasta with a tomato and basil source is the perfect mid-week dinner for when you are short for time. Caprese salad is a beautiful dish filled with fresh flavours too.
Many of your favourite staple dishes such as bolognese, curry, salads and risottos have tomatoes as a base. When you add this plus fish to any dish, you are sure to end up with a well-rounded, balanced meal.
Breakfast time is an excellent opportunity to get those brain cells kicking. For those of you who love coffee, you’ll be happy to know that coffee and tea are ideal for your first brain-boost of the day. Caffeine helps your concentration and some studies suggest that it may also help to solidify short-term memories. Coffee also helps to increase alertness. It blocks adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you sleepy, which makes it the perfect morning booster.
Eggs contain high levels of protein which is good for your whole body, including your heart. They also have many benefits for your brain’s function. Eggs contain a high concentration of B vitamins such as B12. B vitamins are known to reduce levels of a compound called homocysteine in the blood. This is important as high levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. Eggs could, therefore, help with your brain’s long-term functionality.
There are few better ways to start your day than with a cup of coffee and a hot breakfast. But why not treat yourself to a classic salmon eggs royale? Poach the eggs and place them on a bed of smoked salmon, laid over some toast. Drizzle the dish with a hollandaise sauce and garnish with rocket with some roasted cherry tomatoes on the side, and you have a decadent breakfast. What’s even better is that you’ll have 3 of the best brain foods on one plate.
For a lighter choice of breakfast, deeply coloured berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are a good starting point. Add these to a bowl with nuts and yoghurt is also a great compliment to your morning tea or coffee.
Blueberries, in particular, are high in flavonoids, which give them their deep colour. These flavonoids help to improve memory. Studies have shown that a greater intake of blueberries and even strawberries resulted in women having delayed memory decline for as much as two years.
Berries are also great garnishes to salads, adding sweetness and texture. As unusual additions to savoury meals, these fruits will expand your culinary repertoire and combine well with savoury dishes such as Greek salad and roasted tomatoes.
Nuts are one of the best ingredients on the planet. A handful of them on their own make a satisfying snack. If you use them as a garnish to salads or roasts, you could spice up any meal. Nuts also add to the texture and flavour of cereal in the morning. Also note, blueberries and nuts are a great combo.
Nuts are a great source of brain food as they help to protect brain function. They have high levels of vitamin E, which helps to prevent cognitive decline. They are also a healthy source of protein and natural fats, which fuel your brain with the nutrients it needs.
Food for Thought
There are so many excellent brain-powering ingredients out there. You will love experimenting with different recipes to make dishes that will wow a crowd and provide simple midweek dinners. These tasty dishes contain all the nutrients you’ll need to stay on top of your game. Stay sharp, eat healthily, and look after your marvellous brain!