Your brain is amazing. It keeps you breathing, controls your growth and balance, and helps you to process the world around you. It works hard – the brain processes over 70,000 thoughts every day, so it’s important to keep it healthy. By incorporating certain foods into your regular diet, you can give your brain a boost, support memory building, and improve overall cognitive function.
Registered dietitian Will Goodness discusses the most important foods for your brain and provides a few delicious ways you can work them into your diet.
These nuts contain nutrients that can benefit the brain like healthy fats and antioxidants. When eaten as part of a balanced diet, walnuts have the ability to improve overall cognitive function.
Incorporating berries into your diet can benefit your health in a variety of ways and can reduce inflammation that leads to brain aging.
“Berries have anthocyanidins—the part of the fruit that gives it color—that have been shown to benefit several aspects of health, including memory,” said Goodness.
Blueberries are especially good for your brain, as they contain some antioxidants that have been found to improve brain cell communication.
When consumed regularly, leafy greens like spinach and kale, can help improve memory and provide an assortment of other nutrients.
Results from a 2018 study demonstrated that green, leafy vegetables, when eaten one serving every day, significantly reduced memory loss and preserved cognitive function.
Seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, sardines, and trout, have significant benefits to brain function.
“Omega-3 fatty acid is paramount to brain health and may even prevent the onset of dementia. I recommend incorporating two 4oz servings of fatty fish into your diet each week,” said Goodness. “If you don’t like fish, consider taking supplements, like fish oil, that provide at least 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acid.”
While adding certain foods to your diet can be helpful to your brain, limiting others can do the same. High intake of saturated fat can increase bad (LDL) cholesterol, which can lead to the formation of harmful plaque in the brain, resulting in damage to brain cells.
“Damage from this type of plaque, beta-amyloid plaque, is linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Try eating mostly lean meats and use ingredients such as butter, cream, and cheese products in moderation.”
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy foods packed with flavor! Here are three healthy recipes packed with brain-food to help improve cognitive function, and avoid memory loss.
“The key ingredient here is salmon—a food rich in omega-3 fatty acid, salmon is great for your brain,” says Goodness.
Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Ingredients (makes 1 cup):
“The leafy greens, walnuts, and fresh blueberries in this recipe are all highly beneficial to brain function.”
Fruit Compote Ingredients:
Fruit Compote Instructions:
Parfait Final Assembly:
“This recipe incorporates walnuts and berries; two basic foods that support brain health. This simple parfait makes for a great way to start your day or a quick afternoon snack,” says Goodness.
For those who would like to better manage their health through diet and nutrition, Rochester Regional Health offers several medically-monitored weight loss programs.Learn More
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