6 Foods That Boost Brain Power
If you’re feeling tired, lethargic, and having trouble lasting through the work day, chances are you’re not getting the right nutrients from the foods that you’re eating. What you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain, which in turn affects your mood. Eating power foods for the brain can help you improve a variety of things, ranging from memory and cognitive function to decision-making ability.
“While there is no food to make your brain function like a well-oiled machine all day, there are some that have benefits such as added energy,” says Dr. Eddie Fatakhov, M.D., a board-certified physician, nutritionist and best-selling author. “This increase in energy can be the kick your brain needs to stay on task, work harder, and smarter.” Here, his recommendations for foods that will help boost brain power:
Vegetables make great daily snacks, not only for your waistline but also for your energy. Not all vegetables are created equal so look for the ones with the most chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what makes plants green. It is also a great tool for getting oxygen into your blood, providing our cells with a good source of energy, which is great for brain function. Here are some good-for-your-brain greens: kale, Swiss chard, wheatgrass and arugula. There are also some nutrient-rich algae to consider such as spirulina and chlorella (available in supplemental powder—add them to smoothies or fruity yogurt).
2. Good Carbs
A lot of messaging says to ditch the carbs, but in the process you are losing some serious brain support fuel. You can have carbs as long as they are the right ones. Think complex carbs a.k.a. steel-cut oats, sweet potatoes and whole wheat bread. These carbs give you glucose energy but have a low glycemic index (GI)—the rate at which food sugar enters cells. Low GI foods are better for keeping energy higher longer.
DHA Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and trout) and brain function go hand in hand. DHA is not something we naturally create in our bodies, but adding it through our diet can support vital brain function like memory.
In addition to fish, DHA can be found in seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These are easily added to salads (really green salads), yogurt, smoothies or cereal. Another great source of DHA comes from the tasty walnut.
Maca (a kale cousin) is common in Peruvian cooking for its many health benefits such as increased libido, lower blood pressure, and increased energy and endurance. As we have already discussed, increased energy can be a big brain benefit. If maca is utilized as a daily supplement, positive side effects can be seen. Because it’s often offered as a nutty flavored powder, maca is easily incorporated into most beverages or breakfast cereal.
5. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is very high in B vitamins and all amino acids. This is important because B vitamins and amino acids are big energy creators due to the fact that they increase red blood cell count which in turn, increases oxygenated blood.
Before your chocolate bar becomes a sweet treat it starts as cacao (the raw bean form). This natural bean is packed with brain powering magnesium and phenylethylamine compounds (PEA) that stimulate the central nervous system. This all adds up to more focus! Cacao also contains flavonoids—brain good antioxidants. To get the best form of cacao, look for organic or vegan chocolate bars. They usually have what you want without all the additives.
Kamala Kirk is a University of Southern California graduate and has been an editor/writer for more than a decade. She has written for E! Online, Total Beauty, TravelAge West, Malibu Times Magazine, and many more. She resides in Los Angeles and is a proud pug mom. Follow her on Instagram: @kamalakirk