10 Brain Foods That Can Boost Your Memory and Concentration
Do you know that feeling when you’re trying to read an article but your brain doesn’t react?
Well, when it comes to brain function, nutrition can play a vital role. Picking the right foods can fuel your brain, help it function properly and improve your memory and focus. There are long-term benefits as well – some foods contain antioxidants and other nutrients that protect your brain, your heart and other body parts for years to come.
1. Whole Grains
Glucose is the prominent main fuel for your brain. That is why you need to eat carbohydrates, which contain glucose. Found in whole grains like brown rice and whole pasta, complex carbohydrates are your best choice, and here’s why:
You get all the vital nutrients and you eliminate the sugar highs and the sugar lows, so your brain doesn’t go from high energy to fumes within minutes. Oatmeal, wholegrain breads and cereal also enhance blood flow to your brain while memory-improving thiamine is found in wheat germ. Whole grains can also lower the risk of future diseases such as stroke, diabetes and cancer and improve blood pressure levels.
Fish and fish oil are some of the best sources for Omega-3. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are 2 omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines and herring, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our brain function and can decrease the risk of Alzheimer and dementia. 2 or free 3 servings per week of fresh fish (frozen fish is OK too) are part of a healthy diet as recommended by the American Health Association. Fish are also a low-fat source of high quality protein. They are rich with vitamins like D and B2 (riboflavin) as well as calcium, phosphorus and minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium and potassium all of which can reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Like fish, nuts are a great source of EPA and DHA. They are also rich in folate, vitamins E and B6, antioxidants, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Although each type of nut has slightly different nutritional values, most nuts contain fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E and other heart-friendly fats. They also contain protein and complex carbohydrates. There are a variety of nuts you can snack: Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts and a lot more. You might even end up being happier, not only healthier: A recent Spanish study showed that eating nuts can make you feel happier by boosting your serotonin level!
Choline, lecithin and isoflavones can be found in soymilk, tofu and other foods, which are produced from whole, organic soybeans. These substances have the power to slow down memory loss, preserve brain plaque, improve cognitive function, logical memory and more. Soy is also a wonderful source of protein and dietary fiber. It is also rich in vitamin B6. The isoflavones in the soy can also, according to the FDA, reduce the risk of coronary disease. Some studies are showing that over consumption of tofu can affect thyroid function as well as other issues. Therefore it’s a good idea to consume soy moderately and to stick to naturally fermented soy products.
5. Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, radishes, watercress and Brussels sprouts are great for boosting brainpower and preserving memory. No wonder, as they are amongst the most concentrated kinds of food. They are rich in minerals like iron, calcium and potassium, and vitamins, primarily K, C, E and many B vitamins. They contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats and they serve to protect our cells and our eyes from damage and age-related problems. If you were on diet you’d love dark green leafy vegetables as they are low on carbohydrate and their carbs are slow to digest, thus hardly impacting blood glucose.
6. Colorful and Citrus Fruits
Citrus and colorful fruits help increase blood flow to the brain. Avocado is one of your best options as it contains healthy mono-unsaturated fat. Avocado is considered one of the healthiest foods there are, as it contains over 25 necessary nutrients as well as vitamins A, B, C, E, K, iron, potassium and magnesium. It also has gluthione, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals in your body. Avocado also protects your heart and can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while increasing your HDL (good cholesterol). Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits, fortify your immune system. They are packed with vitamin C and other vitamins, minerals, fibers and phytochemicals.
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate and certain medications. It has the power to make you more energetic, improve your memory and even make you happier. Adenosine is a substance that builds up in your bloodstream and causes your body to slow down, which makes you feel sleepy. Caffeine successfully neutralizes adenosine, causing your nervous system to run faster and making you feel more energetic. It also releases dopamine, a brain chemical that makes you feel more active and sharper. Unlike other caffeine products, coffee contains antioxidants, making it the best source of concentrated caffeine. On the long run, moderate coffee drinking can decrease the chances of developing Alzheimer, Parkinson and diabetes.
Be it black, green or oolong (traditional Chinese) tea – it all originates from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. This plant is rich with polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. Research has found that green and black teas have 8-10 times the polyphenols you’ll find in vegetables and fruits. Teas have long term benefits like cancer prevention, anti-aging, lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) level and more. As for short term benefits, green tea is your best bet for relaxing and staying focused as it is goes through less processing and contains catechins, powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals which can contribute to cancer, blood clots and more. As tea contains much lower amounts of caffeine then coffee, you reap the antioxidant benefit while not getting jittery. Black tea can also serve to enhance your brain but to a lesser extent.
Amongst fruits and vegetables, berries are the ones with the highest amount of flavonoids – the cancer-battling antioxidant that also improves memory recall. Fresh blueberries, strawberries and cranberries are some of the best berries you can get. Blueberries can power in reduce Alzheimer and dementia while improving learning abilities. If you’re a student, berries may become your secret sauce on your next exam day: British scientists have found that blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, thus boosting memory and concentration up to 5 hours in advance.
10. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate lovers, rejoice! Having dark chocolate can actually benefit your brain and even uplift your mood… Dark chocolate is packed with flavonols – antioxidants that enhance cognitive skills and increase blood supply to the brain. This may improve performance and alertness for a short period. A British study suggests that dark chocolate could even be used to fight fatigue, sleep deprivation and the effects of aging. Dark chocolate contains natural stimulants that produce more endorphins, thus improving focus and concentration. Milk chocolate, although not as rich with antioxidants as its dark counterpart, can improve impulse control, reaction time and visual memory.