10 Brain-Boosting Foods to Enhance Your Cognitive Function

Consuming brain-boosting foods helps to enhance your cognitive function, which includes, learning, thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and attention.

Cognitive function, simply put, is the ability of your brain to process information, learn, reason, remember, make decisions, and solve problems. It encompasses skills like focus, concentration, memory retrieval, and the entire scope of mental agility.

Reality check, research conducted by the National Library of Medicine revealed that an estimated two-thirds of Americans experience cognitive decline, often with an average onset of around 70 years. This decline can significantly be influenced by age, family history, education level, brain injury, physical inactivity, and chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes which invariably impact daily life and independence.

However, there’s good news! Frontiers in Public Health Scientists suggests a strong link between diet and cognitive health. Low-fat diets appear protective against cognitive decline, as do dietary patterns that include the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets.
So, If you’re looking to support your cognitive health through diet, consider incorporating these 9 brain-boosting foods. Each offers unique cognitive benefits and is delicious to boot! Read on, and for more, don’t miss 7 Worst Foods For Your Brain Health.

1. Eggs

Did you know your brain craves a specific nutrient called choline? One large egg packs a whopping 150 milligrams of it! Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get enough choline, especially as we age. This is where eggs come in! They’re one of the best sources of choline around, and can help with memory, thinking, mood, and more at any age.

Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, One large egg has 252 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin which are not just good for your eyes! Research suggests eating eggs might also play a role in brain function. Just like they protect your eyesight, these nutrients might help with cognitive function and even academic performance.

The good news is, including eggs in your diet is linked to improved brainpower! And don’t skip the yolk – that’s where all the good stuff is! Recent guidelines say healthy people can enjoy up to a whole egg a day, and even two for older adults with healthy cholesterol. Vegetarians can enjoy them even more as part of a balanced diet.

2. Mushroom

Mushrooms are good sources of a remarkable compound called ergothioneine but are often overlooked, relegated to the role of a mere meat substitute in vegan-friendly burgers. But these fantastic fungi are so much more than that.

Ergothioneine is an amino acid that functions as a powerful antioxidant. Researchers have positioned this compound as a “longevity vitamin,” suggesting that it may play a crucial role in supporting healthy aging and cognitive benefits. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties make it an important bioactive compound that can contribute to a healthier, more vibrant lifestyle.

While all mushrooms contain ergothioneine, certain varieties stand out as true champions. Shiitake, oyster, and maitake mushrooms have been found to have the highest amounts of this beneficial compound compared to other mushroom varieties. These mushrooms are the unsung heroes, quietly providing a rich source of this “longevity vitamin” to those who incorporate them into their diets.

As we strive to maintain our health and well-being, it’s time to give mushrooms the recognition they deserve.

3. Walnuts

Walnuts are a unique tree nut that stand out for their high content of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid. This makes them one of the best foods for brain health, as ALA is a precursor to the longer-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA which are critical for normal brain function and development.

Consuming walnuts, which are packed with this healthy fat, may help combat two key drivers of cognitive decline – oxidative stress and inflammation. A randomized controlled trial study found that eating 30-60 grams of walnuts daily for 2 years may delay cognitive decline in those at higher risk.

Walnuts’ omega-3 content sets them apart from other tree nuts. While all mushrooms contain the antioxidant ergothioneine, certain varieties like shiitake, oyster, and maitake have higher amounts compared to others.

4. Blueberries

While conventional blueberries are certainly a healthy addition to any diet, research suggests that wild blueberries may offer unique benefits for cognitive health, particularly for older adults.

According to a study published in the journal Nutritional Nuroscience, consuming wild blueberry powder daily for 6 months can lead to improved cognitive processing speed in older adults. In this double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial, participants aged 75-80 years old experienced the most significant improvements in their ability to think and process information quickly.

The key difference between wild and conventional blueberries lies in their nutrient profiles. Wild blueberries are packed with a higher concentration of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that may help support brain health and cognitive function. These naturally occurring compounds may be the driving force behind the cognitive enhancements observed in the study.

If you’re looking to give your brain a boost, consider incorporating wild blueberries into your diet. You can find wild blueberry powder or frozen wild blueberries at many health food stores or online retailers. Enjoy them in smoothies, sprinkled on yogurt, or as a healthy snack on their own.

5. Tea

One Study suggests that regularly drinking true teas (black, oolong, green, and white) might help protect your brain health. A major analysis looked at 17 studies and found that people who drank more tea had a lower risk of developing cognitive problems like dementia. Even a small amount seems to make a difference! Drinking just under half a cup (100ml) daily could reduce your risk by 6%, and those who enjoy a little over 2 cups (500ml) might see a significant 29% reduction. So, next time you’re looking for a refreshing drink, consider brewing a cup of tea – it could be good for your mind as well as your taste buds!

6. Omega-3 fatty acids

The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging suggests a link between consuming fish and improved cognitive function, particularly in psychomotor speed. This benefit may be even more pronounced for overweight or obese adults.

Fish is a rich source of DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain development and function. DHA is highly concentrated in the brain and plays a critical role in its functioning. In addition to DHA, fish provides other nutrients that contribute to overall health and may indirectly influence brain function. These include:

  • Protein
  • Selenium
  • Choline
  • Iodine

If you’re looking to support your brain health, including fish in your diet is a strategy backed by research.

7. Oranges

Oranges contain various vitamins and plant compounds, including vitamin C, thiamin, vitamin B6, and hesperidin. These nutrients are being explored for their possible role in brain health.

Clinical trial results reports investigated healthy older adults. Those who drank 100% orange juice daily for eight weeks showed improvement in overall cognitive function compared to a control group.

A different study observed a connection between including citrus fruits, like oranges, in the diet and better performance on specific cognitive tests among older adults. However, more research is needed to confirm a cause-and-effect relationship between orange juice and cognitive function. These studies focused on older adults, and the results may not apply to all age groups.

8. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collards, and lettuce, have been shown to have a positive impact on brain health and cognitive function.

Research published in the journal Neurology found that consuming at least one serving (half a cup cooked or one cup raw) of green leafy vegetables per day was associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults. In fact, those who consumed the highest amount of leafy greens (median 1.3 servings per day) were cognitively the equivalent of 11 years younger compared to those who consumed the least (median 0.09 servings per day), National Insitute on Aging revealed.

Both studies further reported that green leafy vegetables are rich in several nutrients that have been linked to brain health, including folate, vitamin K, lutein, and nitrates. These nutrients appear to account for the protective relationship between green leafy vegetable consumption and slower cognitive decline.

Another study found that people who followed plant-based diets high in green leafy vegetables had lower amounts of beta-amyloid buildup in their brains, a marker for Alzheimer’s disease. Those who consumed the most green leafy vegetables (7 or more servings per week) had less beta-amyloid buildup compared to those who ate only 1-2 servings per week.

9. Watermelon

Watermelon, Red, and pink-fleshed have several nutritional components that can suggest possible cognitive function improvement.

Watermelon contains the antioxidant choline, which contributes to muscle movement, learning and memory, maintaining cell membrane structure, nerve impulse transmission, and early brain development. Some research suggests choline may even help slow the progression of dementia in Alzheimer’s disease.

The vitamin C found in watermelon plays a crucial role in collagen production, which is important for overall brain health and function. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that can help combat free radicals and potentially reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.

As an extremely hydrating fruit, watermelon can help keep the brain properly hydrated, which is essential for cognitive processes like concentration, memory, and mood regulation. Dehydration can negatively impact brain function.

10. Avocado

Avocados are highly beneficial for brain health due to their unique nutritional profile.

Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is crucial for brain development and function. DHA is highly concentrated in the brain and plays a vital role in its overall functioning.

The antioxidants found in avocados, such as lutein, α-Carotene, and β-Carotene, have been shown to have neuroprotective effects, protecting the brain against oxidative damage associated with cognitive decline. Studies have found that regularly consuming avocados can improve cognitive performance, including working memory and problem-solving abilities.

Avocados also contain other brain-boosting nutrients, including vitamin E, which may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and slow cognitive decline. Additionally, the potassium, folate, and fiber in avocados contribute to overall brain health by promoting healthy blood flow and stable blood sugar levels.

Research has demonstrated that the consumption of avocados is linked to better cognitive function, particularly in areas like psychomotor speed, which is important for daily tasks and activities. The unique combination of healthy fats, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients in avocados make them a potent brain food that can support optimal brain development and function.

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by shalw

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