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Food tips, myths and facts

Food tips, myths and facts

September 30, 2016

Great foods for your brain

Image credit: iStock/Tijana87

When it comes to looking after your body and your health, we all know that there are certain foods you should eat more of and others you should avoid. However, there are some foods that are great for specific areas of your body, helping you to target different health concerns or reduce future risks.

One of the areas that can be impacted by specific foods is the brain. Eating meals and snacks that can boost your brain power could help you feel more awake and alert throughout the day, while also improving memory and possibly fighting off illnesses that are common later in life, such as dementia.

Filling your diet with brain-healthy foods really could help you be healthier and ensure your brain is at its best. Here are some things you should be adding to your meal plan in order to keep your brain healthy and happy:

Oily fish

The benefits of oily fish are pretty huge for most parts of your body, but they are really important for your brain.

Our bodies can’t make essential fatty acids, so you need to consume them. Oily fish is one of the best sources of essential fatty acids, which are needed for brain function, your joints and heart health.

Oily fish contains EPA and DHA, which are good to go so your body can start using the essential fatty acids almost straight away. Fishes that are high in these are mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout – all of which are very healthy.

The fatty acid DHA has been linked to dementia, with low levels leading to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Ensuring you get enough DHA and EPA is thought to help¬†reduce stress and allow your brain to make more serotonin – which helps to keep you in a good mood.

Olive oil

Not only does olive oil taste great, it does good things for your brain. Olive oil is a great source of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. These have been found to help prevent memory problems that are related to age – even helping to reverse them in some cases.

Extra virgin olive oil also contains healthier types of fat – mono and polyunsaturated rather than saturated – which have been related to reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

While olive oil isn’t ideal for frying due to its low smoke point, it is great for using in baking, on salads and for adding flavour to other dishes. You can even swap your butter for olive oil to enjoy healthier morning toast.

Leafy greens

You may not like a lot of green on your plate, but this means you’re missing out on all the beneficial vitamins they contain. Foods like kale and spinach contain high levels of vitamin K, which has been linked to improvements brain function.

The vitamin has been connected to a slowing of cognitive decline, which occurs naturally as we age. This can affect memory and processing time, but if you eat one or two portions of leafy green vegetables a day, it could help this slow down.

Blueberries

That’s right, some of the hype around blueberries appears to be true so you might want to add them to your diet more often. Blueberries are excellent sources of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which has been suggested to be particularly healthy for your brain.

Research has found that anthocyanin crosses the blood-brain barrier, which means it can help protect the brain from oxidation. It also allows better communication between the brain and neurons.

This could mean that you’ll experience better memory, balance and coordination if you eat blueberries every week.

Celery

It may not be particularly tasty, but celery is one of the best sources of the plant compound luteolin. This compound has been linked to the slowing of age-related memory loss, which happens to us all eventually.

Luteolin works by reducing inflammation in the brain, which is believed to be one of the primary causes of memory loss in later life. By reducing inflammation and issues connected with it, luteolin can help to prevent brain degeneration.

Dark chocolate

Those who can’t get by without a chocolate fix will be happy to hear that dark chocolate could help your brain while also being a healthier option than white or milk chocolate. Dark chocolate – you want 70 per cent and upwards of cocoa solids – not only has high levels of fibre, magnesium and iron, it also contains flavonols.

Flavonols work by improving the function of blood vessels, which means more blood can flow to the brain. This improves how the brain works, including its memory and cognitive function abilities.

In the short term, dark chocolate also has theobromine and caffeine in it, which helps to give your brain a boost as soon as you’ve eaten, keeping you feeling alert.

Adding these foods into your diet could help you to keep your brain working at a high level and improve your health.

 

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