Food is medicine, and it can even impact your memory and ability to focus. You know that eating well has physical benefits, but have you ever considered the effect that food has on your mental health?
For example, research has shown that people who eat less saturated fat perform better in areas of thinking and memory than those who eat more of it.
Moreover, diets high in healthy unsaturated fats have been linked to lower rates of dementia and related memory loss.
In addition to a brisk daily walk or other forms of exercise, a wholesome diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats can improve mental functions.
Below are seven specific brain foods that will help you have better memory and focus.
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil is one excellent source of those healthy unsaturated fats mentioned above. In addition, olive oil contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that can help improve your learning and memory.
A compound called oleocanthal also helps fight against toxic proteins called ADDLs that can attach to brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s.
Remember to choose extra virgin olive oil for the most benefits, and avoid cooking with it at high temperatures, which can cause it to hydrogen and decompose.
2. Leafy Greens
Researchers have discovered that people who eat one or two servings of leafy green vegetables each day typically experience slower mental deterioration.
In fact, they can show the mental capacity of someone more than 10 years younger. This is likely due to the remarkable amount of nutrients packed into leafy greens.
Vitamin E, vitamin K, and folate, for example, help prevent dementia. Try a spinach salad with salmon, walnuts, and olive oil for extra brain-boosting benefits.
Fish is another great source of healthy unsaturated fat, specifically DHA, an important omega-3 fat in your brain.
Salmon especially helps improve memory and focus and can even help ward off ADHD, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. It also provides vitamin D, which prevents cognitive decline.
In fact, one study has shown that people with a vitamin D deficiency are more likely to experience age-related memory loss.
Pay attention to where your fish comes from, and opt for more nutrient-dense Alaskan wild-caught fish over farm-raised options, which can contain mercury and other toxins.
Found in many gardens and kitchen cabinets, rosemary provides multiple health benefits. It contains carnosic acid, which helps protect your brain from chemical free radicals that cause Alzheimer’s, neurodegeneration, strokes, and normal aging.
In addition, rosemary’s anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of antioxidants help prevent the deterioration of your eyesight.
Rosemary is delicious sprinkled on salmon or potatoes and drizzled with olive oil.
Another common spice, turmeric has been used as a healing agent for centuries. It is rich in a compound called curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that helps block the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.
These plaque deposits are associated with Alzheimer’s and the destruction of brain cells.
In addition, turmeric helps fight cholesterol, the buildup of which can reduce blood flow to your brain.
It also increases your antioxidant levels as well as your brain’s oxygen intake, helping you stay alert and focused.
Although eggs have developed a bad reputation for containing large amounts of cholesterol, they are actually an excellent brain food. As a matter of fact, research has shown that in healthy adults, eggs do not affect bad cholesterol levels and may even improve good cholesterol.
Egg yolks are rich in choline, an essential nutrient that improves brain function and memory. Folate may help your body absorb choline, so try pairing eggs with leafy greens in an omelet or salad.
Choose organic, free-range eggs whenever possible, as these are healthier than their conventional counterparts.
Like olive oil and fish, these brain-shaped nuts are an excellent source of healthy unsaturated fats. Even eating just a small handful of walnuts each day can have a positive impact on your cognitive health.
They contain high levels of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins—especially vitamin E—that help improve mental alertness and prevent Alzheimer’s.
If you eat certain foods to improve your physical health, it’s time to take your mental health into consideration as well. All of the foods on this list positively affect both, and many pair quite well together, such as eggs and greens or fish and rosemary.
Try including at least one of these foods in a meal each day in addition to scheduling time for a walk or other exercise, and you may just notice your memory and focus improve. At the very least, your body—and mind—will thank you!
About The Author:
Melissa Gallo is very passionate about cooking, creating and sharing unique recipes or just simply cooking good food. Melissa has also developed an interest in a variety of other things including a healthy diet and traveling to new places around the globe to experience different cuisines and learning different cultures.