When most people think about food, they don’t think of it as a way to increase their brain power. That’s a mistake. Research has shown that certain foods can give us a mental boost. From helping us think clearer to making us feel happy, food is a terrific way to keep our brains sharp.
5 Fun Brain Foods
Here are five food favorites that taste great and can give your brain a boost too:
One terrific brain food is chocolate, specifically the cacao beans found in dark chocolate. These beans are a true “super food” and have the ability to bust through brain fog, improve your mood, and help ease pain. They are also chock full of antioxidants, which protect your brain from harmful effects.
Tip: Visit your local health food store for high quality dark chocolate that has at least 75% cacao bean content.
Popcorn isn’t just for the movies anymore. This favorite packs a whole grain punch that increases good cholesterol levels and improves blood flow to the brain. Popcorn also is high in vitamin B6, which ensures proper communication between your brain cells.
Tip: Look for low-fat versions that come in single sizes and sprinkle a little hot sauce on it to rev up your metabolism.
3. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a rich source of protein, which is important for peak brain function. Research shows that a person eating a breakfast high in protein performs better on mental tasks throughout the day. Peanut butter is also a great source of vitamins B3 and folate. In addition, peanut butter helps regulate cholesterol which also keeps those blood vessels healthy.
Tip: Spread a tablespoon over a piece of whole grain toast for a brain-boosting snack.
4. Ice Cream
Scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London used MRI scans to study the effect that ice cream has on the brain. The processing area at the front of the brain, which is activated when people enjoy themselves, “lit up” just as it does in those who win money or listen to invigorating music. A spokesperson for the study states, “just one spoonful lights up the happy zones in the brain.”
Tip: Try this dairy free ice cream recipe.
Okay, so it’s not actually a food, but it’s a fun and necessary part of waking up for millions of us. A study out of the University of North Dakota found that just one cup a day can help protect the blood-brain barrier by blocking the damaging effects of cholesterol. A leaky and inefficient blood-brain barrier allows harmful chemicals to pass through and has been found in Alzheimer’s patients.
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has shown that drinking caffeine during mid life may reduce your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was conducted at the University of Kuopio, Finland along with Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden and the National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.
1409 participants were followed for an average of 21 years and their coffee consumption was put into three categories:
Low: 0-2 cups per day
Moderate: 3-5 cups per day
High: over 5 cups per day
The lowest risk (65% decreased) was found among moderate coffee drinkers (drinking 3-5 cups of coffee/day).
According to this article,
[The Participants] were first asked about their coffee-drinking habits when they were in their 50s and their memory functions were tested again in 1998, when they were between 65 and 79 years of age.
So what is it about coffee that protects our brains?
Miia Kivipelto, the lead researcher on the project, tells the AFP:
“it remained unclear exactly how moderate coffee drinking helped delay or avoid the onset of dementia, but pointed out that coffee contains strong antioxidants, which are known to counter Alzheimer’s.
Going forward, researchers should try to nail down exactly what the protective elements in coffee consist in.”
As always, check with your doctor before adding caffeine to your diet.
With that said, I’m off to Starbucks. Thoughts?
Tip: Skip the high-calorie, high-fat double-caramel-full-cream version and instead opt for some fresh brewed organic roast.
You can sharpen your mind, increase your brain power, repair memory loss, and improve thought processes all by stuffing your face . . . now that’s food for thought.