It’s time to stop skipping celery because it tastes like, well, nothing. Because what celery lacks in taste it more than makes up for in brain power! It’s a rich source of luteolin, a plant compound believed to reduce inflammation in the brain, thereby protecting it from the aging process. A 2010 study found that luteolin slowed cognitive decline in older mice. You don’t have to chomp down a huge stick of celery to reap its benefits: Try chopping some up and adding it to your tuna salad, or tossing a bunch into the next soup you make. These are the best brain foods that will make you smarter.
Great news for dark chocolate lovers! Several studies demonstrate its brain-boosting powers, including enhanced cognitive function, a reduced risk of dementia, and improved performance on challenging brain teasers—along with a slew of other health benefits of dark chocolate. For example, researchers in 2013 found that the flavanols that get absorbed when you consume chocolate penetrate and accumulate in the brain regions involved in learning and memory, especially the hippocampus. Another test, carried out in 2011, found that even single doses of high-flavanol dark chocolate can improve performance on cognitive tests, including memory test, in healthy adults. Chocolate has even been found to improve depression and anxiety symptoms and help enhance feelings of calmness and contentedness, thanks to its mood-enhancing flavanols and methylxanthines.
All nuts are good for brain health, but walnuts are at the top of the list. Thanks to their high concentration of DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid (one quarter cup of walnuts provides almost 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of DHA), the nuts have been linked to brain health in newborns and improved cognitive performance in adults, and prevent or ameliorate age-related cognitive decline. A 2012 study found that walnut consumption may increase inferential reasoning in young adults.
Substances called free radicals float through the bloodstream and try to break down the brain cells, which can lead to memory loss as you age. However, antioxidants merge with free radicals and make them harmless—and carrots are loaded with them. Carrots can also protect against other types of cognitive decline, according to a study from 2000, thanks to their ability to lower the oxidative stress in the brain that can weaken nerve signaling capacity.
The brain needs plenty of omega-3 fats to stay healthy, and the best natural source is in oily fish, such as salmon, mackarel, trout, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers. Oily fish contains the active form of EPA and DHA in ready-made form, meaning the body can use it easily. Having healthy levels of both EPA and DHA is thought to help up manage stress and boost levels of the “happy” brain chemical, serotonin. Recent research carried out in the United States found a possible link between high omega-3 levels and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Another great brain power food you should try to eat every day is tomatoes. This fruit contains the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which is believed to help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia. Tomatoes also contain other compounds that can protect the brain’s health and functionality. Research carried out in 2013 suggests that the vitamin B group nutrient choline improves short-term memory, aids in learning, and regulates sleep. Additionally, the alpha-lipoic acid in tomatoes helps preserve brain tissue, and may even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Though humble, the egg is one of the biggest nutrition bangs for your buck. According to Finnish researchers, eating eggs can boost brain power—and it’s all down to choline again. The diets of around 2,500 men in Finland were monitored for a period of up to 22 years and it was found that those who ate roughly the equivalent of one egg a day did not have a higher risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the opposite turned out to be true. These actually performed better on certain cognitive tests in later life than men who ate eggs less often.
Seeds are great for the brain, and pumpkin seeds among the best. These little delights are packed with omega-3 fatty acids to improve mental health, help maintain memory and support brain development, and they also contain high levels of magnesium, which is believed to have a calming effect on the brain, and zinc, which increases brain power by enhancing focus and memory. One handful of pumpkin seeds provides you with 50 percent of the recommended levels of zinc (8-11mg per day). Research carried out in 2011 found that zinc played a “critical” role in regulating communication between the brain in respect of memory and cognition. Read more