The brain uses carbohydrates for energy and omega-3 fatty acids for the formation of its cell structure. B vitamins play an essential role in brain function. Clinical observation strongly links folic acid to brain development. In combination with folic acid, vitamins B6 and vitamin B12 help manufacture and release chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. The nervous system relies on these neurotransmitters to communicate messages within the brain, such as those that regulate mood, hunger, and sleep.
In addition, foods rich in antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin A, C and vitamin E and beta-carotene, help protect brain cells from free-radical damage caused by environmental pollution. They are known as free radical scavengers and defense from free radicals is important to protecting the brain well into the golden years. Studies suggest that taking supplements of vitamins C and E can prevent the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slow the progression of memory loss.
Nuts contain protein, high amounts of fiber, and they are rich in beneficial fats. They also contain plenty of vitamin B, E, and magnesium which are essential to cognitive function. They can clear up that brain fog and enable you to think clearer and are positive mood enhancers. Filberts, hazelnuts, cashews, and walnuts are great choices, with almonds being the king of nuts.
For those avoiding carbohydrates, macadamia nuts are much higher in fat than most nuts. Peanuts are not a good choice as many people are allergic to peanuts and have less healthy fat than many other types of nuts.
Try seeds like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and tahini (a tangy, nutty sesame butter that tastes great in replacement of mayo and salad dressing). Seeds contain a lot of protein, beneficial fat, and vitamin E, as well as stress-fighting antioxidants and important brain-boosting minerals like magnesium.
They boost your mood and brainpower. Sunflower seeds contain tryptophan, an important amino acid that the brain converts to serotonin, which is a natural way to relieve mild depression and insomnia. Additionally, sunflower seeds are high in thiamine, an important B vitamin, which increases memory and cognitive function.
Berries contain antioxidants that help boost cognition, coordination, and memory. Blueberries are high in fiber and low on the glycemic index, thus they are safe for diabetics and they do not spike blood sugar. Blueberries are possibly the best brain food on earth as they boost the potency of neuron signals. They are also known as the “brain berry”, and are considered a super food when eaten in their natural form. They are also known to protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Antioxidant-rich strawberries can prevent age-related neurological declines by improving brain cell abilities to send and receive the ’signaling’ molecules. The brain uses these signaling molecules to communicate. Blackberries are rich in nutrients called anthocyanins that help protect our brain from oxidation stress, which in turn fights degenerative brain diseases.
Green tea enhances memory and focus and fights mental fatigue. It contains catechines, which help you relax mentally and maintain your focus as well.
Green tea also helps maintain positive mood states and fights against many brain disorders. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants found in green tea that can boost the availability of the important signaling brain substance dopamine in brain circuits.
Broccoli is a super food with high overall nutrient content. High levels of chemicals called homocysteines are linked with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. In order to break themselves down, homocysteines require folate and B12 or B6, vitamins found in vegetables like broccoli. It is a great source of vitamin K, which enhances cognitive function and improves brainpower.
Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are essential in protecting your memory. Wholegrain foods, such as whole grain breads and wheat germ are part of the best brain foods. Whole grain breads, cereals, barley, popcorn boost blood flow to the brain.
In addition to being another rich source of DHA (docosahexanoic acid), a type of omega-3s; tuna, particularly yellow fin, has the highest level of vitamin B6 of any food. Generally, the B vitamins are among the most important for balancing your mood. B6 in particular influences dopamine receptors, the “feel good” hormones along with serotonin.