Top 5 Brain Foods and their benefits

Top 5 Brain Foods and their benefits

“Brain food” is a non-scientific term that refers to everyday foods that have scientifically been shown to improve brain function when they are frequently consumed. Some people call these “smart foods” or even “genius foods.”

 

Generally, brain foods are high in the following nutrients:

  • Antioxidants – fight against oxidative stress and free radicals in the brain.
  • Polyphenols  beneficial plant compounds with antioxidative abilities.
    • Flavonoids (e.g., flavan-3-ols, flavones, flavanone and flavonols)
      • Phenolic acids (e.g., rich in seeds and skin of the fruits)
      • Polyphenolic amides (e.g., capsaicinoids in chili peppers and avenanthramides in oats)
      • Isoflavones, neoflavonoids and chalcones (e.g., genistein and daidzein in soy and chalcones in the apple)
      • Anthocyanidins (i.e., the red, blue and purple pigments in blueberries, grapes and beets)
      • Non-flavonoid polyphenols (e.g., resveratrol in grape peels and curcumin in turmeric)
  • Unsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids in seafood and fish and oleic acid in extra virgin olive oil)
  • Amino acids

Here is the list of Top 5 Brain Foods and their unique effects on the brain

1. Eggs

As is the case for most containers of a new life, an egg is close to a perfect food. Eggs are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients (including phospholipids, lutein, zeaxanthin and choline). Eggs also contain one essential nutrient, choline, which helps cells to detoxify from harmful toxins and thus protect from fatty liver disease.

  • Choline is a building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for fluent thinking, memory and learning.
  • Choline participates in building myelin sheath around the brain cells. Myelin protects the nerve cells from damage and allows signals in the brain to travel fast and efficiently (which means faster thinking, faster movement, better memory and better executive functions).

    2. Dark, leafy greens & wild greens

    Dark, leafy greens are an integral part of a diet that supports optimal brain function and overall health. Usually, the darker the color the more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants the leafy green contains. The most nutrient-dense leafy greens are watercress, kale, collard greens, spinach, swiss chard, dark lettuce, cabbage, arugula, turnip greens and herbs. Also, broccoli and broccoli sprouts, as well as other sprouts and microgreens, are high in various vital nutrients essential for brain health.

    • A study published in Neurology in 2018 found that eating at least one serving (half a cup cooked or one cup raw) of leafy green vegetables every day was associated with a slower decline in brain function.
    • A large meta-analysis from 2017 confirmed that consuming vegetables, such as green leafy vegetables, protects from cognitive impairment and dementia.

      3. Dark and raw chocolate

      The original name of the cacao plant is Theobroma cacao, where Theobroma (from Latin) means the food of the Gods. The word cacao is derived from an Aztecan word cacahuatl meaning the bean of the cocoa tree. Thus, the full name Theobroma cacao leads to a powerful statement: cacao is the food of the gods. The high valuation and reputation come from its special ingredients that are known to have aphrodisiac properties (e.g., methylxanthine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamide).

        4. Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3 PUFAs)

        Fish and other seafood contain polyunsaturated long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (PUFAs). The most important of these fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Compared to other organs in the human body, the highest DHA contents are found in the eye (60 %) and the brain (40 %). In the eye, DHA is found in the retina which it contributes to the vision. In the brain, DHA is mainly found in the grey matter, where it has an important role in cell signaling (e.g., speed of thinking, neuroprotection and memory). Remarkably, nearly half of the nerve cell membrane weight is DHA.

          5. Blueberries & Bilberries

          The wide range of bioactive plant compounds found in blueberries and bilberries have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antimicrobial properties. In the brain, they seem to protect neurons from aging and improve cell signaling and cognition. The compounds include flavonols, tannins, ellagitannins and phenolic compounds, and most importantly, the berries have a high amount of anthocyanins, which give them their dark blue (almost black) color. Currently, blueberry extracts, juices and powders are also popular ways of consuming blueberries.

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            In the Biohacker's Brain Nutrition Guide we cover the top 10 brain foods very thoroughly. Learn the other 5 brain foods (EVOO, curcumin, MCTs, cruciferous vegetables, and avocado) you need to eat by reading the book.

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