Ever wonder what makes “superfoods” so super? These foods are some of the very best sources of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are thought to be especially good for your health. While superfoods can benefit different parts of your body, some are actually ideal for protecting and improving your brain health. From helping to boost your memory to increasing your mental cognition and reducing your risk of dementia, the following five superfoods feed your need for a healthier brain.
These rich, buttery nuts have finally come out of their shells and emerged as a brain-boosting powerhouse. According to a large-scale study by UCLA, walnuts are a powerful superfood because they contain a unique combination of specific antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that can help improve mental performance. See, walnuts have almost twice as many antioxidants as all other nuts. They are also packed with a fundamental omega-3 called DHA, which research has shown to help improve both cognition and mood. With all of their nutrients, it’s no wonder why many medical experts consider walnuts to be the ultimate superfood. Sprinkle some over your salads and yogurt. Mix them into muffins and pasta. Or just grab a handful during the day for a protein-packed snack. With the many ways that walnuts benefit for your brain, feel free to go nuts!
Did you know that these tiny fruits are often referred to as “brainberries?” According to a study by the University of Exeter in the UK, blueberries are a superfood because they’re bursting with antioxidant-rich flavonoids. These nutrients are found in plants and they’ve been shown to help protect brain cells from oxidative damage, as well as improve short-term memory loss and may reverse the loss of both balance and coordination. A little-known secret for picking your berries is that the darker berries have more antioxidants. There are so many ways to enjoy these juicy berries that it’s easy to get the recommended 1/2-cup serving per day. Toss them on your cereal or pancakes. Mix them into muffins and yogurt. Or just blend them up in a smoothie. No matter how you choose to enjoy them, it’s easy as pie to get blueberry’s benefits for your brain.
Packed with protein and nutrients for your brain, wild salmon is the perfect catch. According to a study in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, wild salmon is a superfood because it’s swimming with a particular type of omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA.) In addition to playing an important role in maintaining the health of your brain cells, this omega-3 can help improve your memory and mental cognition. Since your body doesn’t produce omega-3s on its own, you need to get them from other sources. Wild salmon is one of the richest, which is why experts recommend going wild and enjoying this delicious fish at least twice a week.
Maybe the reason these leafy stalks are sometimes called “tiny trees” is because they may contribute to brain growth. New research in the Genesis journal reveals that broccoli is a superfood because it contains sulforaphane, which has been shown to promote the growth and repair of brain tissue. Sulforaphane is a special compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in certain vegetables, especially broccoli. Luckily, there are countless ways to enjoy this power-packed veggie. Try broccoli chopped up in omelets, mixed into pasta, grated into slaw, roasted as a side dish, or simply dunked into dips. In addition to being delicious in any dish, these tiny trees are blooming with benefits for your brain.
Are you craving a luscious way to keep your brain at its best? Reach for some dark chocolate. A study published in the Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews journal found that dark chocolate is a superfood due to its high levels of flavanols. These are special compounds that have been shown to help improve blood flow to the brain, which can increase cognitive function and memory. Another reason to feel good about enjoying dark chocolate is because it has an abundance of polyphenols. These are unique phytochemicals that have been shown to help reduce depression and anxiety. Just remember to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao and try to indulge in no more than two squares a day. So now when you have some dark chocolate, remember that you’re also giving your brain a sweet treat.
Be sure to keep these five superfoods in mind when you’re hungry to keep your brain at its very best.