21 Mar Foods That Fuel Your Brain
While we’ve always known that what we eat has an impact on our bodies and how we look, scientists are finding more and more evidence that what we eat has a significant impact on the health of our brains. You heard that right, when it comes to staying mentally sharp and focused, eating plenty of brain foods matters!
Here are five foods that may help support focus and concentration:
- Salmon: Fatty fish is generally at the top of the list when it comes to boosting focus. Examples of fatty fish include: salmon, trout, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines, all of which are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with a lower risk of dementia and stroke, as well as a slower rate of mental decline; they may also play a key part in memory enhancement, especially as we age.1 For brain AND heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly!1
- Eggs: Eggs are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline.2 Choline, which is rich in egg yolk, is an important micronutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.3 In addition, the B vitamins present in eggs play a role in brain function as well. They may help slow the progression of mental decline in older adults by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that could be linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.4
- Avocado: Blood flow is essential to every organ in the body, especially the heart and brain. Avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol. This means that avocados can also reduce plaque buildup in your arteries and enhance blood flow.
- Adaptogens: Adaptogens are certain herbs or mushrooms thought to help your body adjust to physical, chemical, or biological stress.5 They’re also thought to stimulate your body’s stress-protection response and help its systems return to a balanced state called “homeostasis”.5 Studies conducted in animals and in human cell samples have shown that adaptogens may indeed demonstrate neuroprotective activity, have anti-fatigue and antidepressant properties, and can serve as a stimulant for the central nervous system.6 Ashwagandha is an adaptogen and it is found in FITTEAM FIT!
- Beets: The nitrates in beets may improve brain function by promoting the dilation of blood vessels and thus increasing blood flow to the brain. More specifically, beets have been shown to improve blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain, an area associated with higher level thinking like decision making and working memory. However, more research is needed to determine whether beets could be used to improve brain function and reduce the risk of dementia among the general population.7
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes these five common brain-boosting foods will help you maintain your memory, concentration, and focus!
- Jennings, K.-A., MS, & RD. (2021, June 4). 11 best foods to boost your brain and memory. Healthline.
- FoodData central. (n.d.). Usda.Gov. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
- Wiedeman, A. M., Barr, S. I., Green, T. J., Xu, Z., Innis, S. M., & Kitts, D. D. (2018). Dietary choline intake: Current state of knowledge across the life cycle. Nutrients, 10(10), 1513.
- Ford, A. H., & Almeida, O. P. (2019). Effect of vitamin B supplementation on cognitive function in the elderly: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Drugs & Aging, 36(5), 419–434.
- Adaptogens: What to know. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
- Tarantino, O. (2021, March 21). The one ingredient everyone’s adding to their coffee —. Eat This Not That.
- Coyle, D., APD, Link, R., MS, & RD. (2021, November 11). 9 impressive health benefits of beets. Healthline.
|Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, CDE
Registered Dietitian/ Consultant