When you hear the term “brain foods”, what do you think of? Foods that help make you smarter? If only we could eat an apple and see our IQ score jump a few points! Just eating certain brain foods won’t directly boost your intelligence; however, they can support your brain’s ability to learn and form new memories with proper nutrition.
The term “brain foods” actually refers to foods that are high in antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation. Inflammation affects how chemicals such as neurotransmitters and hormones work in the brain. These changes can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and difficulty with learning and memory.
The brain runs better on foods that are high in nutrients, which are correlated with high antioxidants. Certain foods have higher levels of antioxidants, like fruits and vegetables. Other brain foods include those containing omega-3 fatty acids and choline.
Examples of great brain foods include:
- Eggs and egg yolks – contain choline, which is good for fetal brain development. Choline can also help with learning and memory, while helping prevent depression.
- Broccoli – contains a lot of choline to help build up that memory.
- Berries – contain antioxidants and gallic acid. They help prevent the brain from degeneration and help the brain deal with stress. Antioxidants can also improve short-term memory.
- Oily fish, flax seeds, tuna or sardines – contain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which can help improve focus and memory.
Wondering how to start incorporating these “brain foods” into your daily routine? Start with breakfast. Quick-burning sugars or carbohydrates, like many cereals, don’t have a lot of fiber, causing you to feel tired and hungry sooner. Every meal, including breakfast, should contain something with fiber, protein and healthy fats. Examples include:
- Organic Greek yogurt or cottage cheese topped with fresh berries and walnuts.
- Smoothie made with plain Greek yogurt, frozen berries and ground flax seeds. Add a spoonful of almond butter for a creamier texture and extra healthy fats. You can also add fresh or frozen greens (spinach, kale) for extra nutrients; you won’t even taste them!
- Egg muffins are easy to make ahead for the week. Simply scramble up eggs, mix in some veggies and cheese (optional), and bake in the oven in a silicone muffin pan.
To make things even easier in the morning, put ingredients together for single serving portions, then refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Remember to avoid highly processed foods as they can cause inflammation. In addition to eating the right foods, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and regular exercise. All of these things go hand-in-hand with brain health!