By now we all know the importance of proper nutrition to general health. The most effective way to achieve optimal nutrition is to focus on the five main food groups—fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy. All of these play a key role in supplying our bodies with vital nutrients. 

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We also know through many years’ research that a healthy diet plays a big role in maintaining a high level of brain health and mental function.  It’s widely recognized that certain foods can help boost memory and may reduce the risk of stroke and neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Certain foods can actually help improve the structure of brain cells; other foods, sugary foods for example, may actually harm brain cells.  Brain-enhancing foods most commonly contain the following:

Omega fatty acids; antioxidants; healthy fats, B vitamins.

Research is ongoing but here are some of the foods that are currently recommended as containing those brain-boosting nutrients which can enhance mental performance.

Antioxidant-rich berries including:  Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and blackcurrants.

Nuts and seeds contain the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals and may also improve cognition.  Nuts and seeds with high levels of vitamin E include: Sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain vitamin C and flavonoids, and these antioxidants can improve brain health.

Other cruciferous vegetables to include are cauliflower, turnips, kale, brussels sprouts, bok choy and cabbage.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are related to brain aging.  Good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are:  

Salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel, soybeans, nuts and other seeds.

Avocados are a healthy fat that may also support brain function.  

Eggs are a good source of B vitamins such as vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folic acid.  Some research has shown that these vitamins may help prevent brain shrinkage and help to delay cognitive decline.  

This list is by no means comprehensive but is a starting point if you’re interested in maintaining and/improving brain health and performance.  Always remember that health brain function also includes proper hydration, exercise, adequate sleep and stress management. 

By including brain boosting foods and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits it’s possible to maintain a healthy body and mind throughout the many decades of our lives.

Be well!

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