Superfoods for Your Brain – SuperFat - Amazing Nut Butters

Superfoods for Your Brain

The power of what we eat to influence our mental faculties has been to known to science since the mid-90’s. It was around that time that researchers discovered that brain cells could actually grow and that a key factor in that growth was a person’s diet.

In this article, we will identify the key foods that you need to be consuming on a regular basis in order to operate at your sharpest mental capability.

Brain Food SuperFat

HOW FOOD AFFECTS THE BRAIN

What you eat helps generate healthy neurons with bushes of dendrites or nerve receptors. The right foods also help to keep the brain flexible. You also need premium fuel to energize the brain; though its weight is just two percent of your total body weight, it requires twenty percent of your energy reserves.

The right foods also help the brain to manufacture chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Their job is to relay messages from the brain around the body.

Antioxidants keep the brain clean by reducing the effect of oxidation on brain cells. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) help to protect cell membranes, transmit messages, reduce inflammation, and supports the reduction of neurons.

The brain is 78 percent water, so keeping well hydrated is clearly essential to optimum cerebral performance.

Fat

There are some fats that our brains don’t like at all. These are the saturated fats found in such food as red meat, milk, lard, butter, and processed snacks. These fats disrupt nerve communication and mental performance and set the stage for cell degeneration.

There are other fats that the brain likes. These are monounsaturated fats. They can be found in such foods as

  • Avocados

  • Nuts

  • Olive Oil

  • Peanut Oil

  • Canola Oil

However, the fats that the body absolutely loves are known as essential fatty acids (EFAs). There are different kinds of EFA’s, but the Rolls Royce when it comes to brain functioning is the Omgea-3 fatty acid.

EFAs comprise part of cell membranes and neurons. They make up a large portion of the gray matter, which is the thinking part, of your brain.

EFAs are longer-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are found in . . .

  • Coldwater fish

  • Walnuts

  • Flaxseed

  • Vegetable oils

There are different types of omega-3’s. The brain thrives on the long-chain omega-3’s called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These two acids are plentiful in . . .

  • Salmon

  • Halibut

  • Mackerel

  • Scallops

  • Sardines

  • Herring

  • Fish oil

  • Algae

The other type of omega-3 is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). It is to be found in . . .

  • Flax seed

  • Canola oil

  • Soy

  • English walnuts

  • Hemp

  • Blackcurrants

  • Pumpkin

Although the body can convert some ALA to the other omega-3’s, vegans should check with a nutritionist to ensure that they are getting enough DHA and EPA in their diet.

You can also get omega-3’s from supplements. If you wish to supplement with omega-3, take a fish oil or cod liver oil supplement. You should take no more than 3 grams of omega-3 per day.

Vitamins

The brain relies upon vitamins to protect itself, communicate and clean itself. When neurons die, they create damaging free radicals. Free radicals mutate cell membranes, alter DNA and can even cause cell death.

Antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, reduce, neutralize and offset much of the harmful brain effects of free radicals.

The best vitamins for the brain are

  • Thiamine – found in pork, legumes, nuts, seeds and organ meats

  • B-12 – found in milk, meat, eggs, nutritional yeast and soy-milk

  • Folic Acid – Spinach, turnip greens, Romaine lettuce, brewer’s yeast, asparagus, dried beans, dried peas, wheat, broccoli, nuts

  • Vitamin B6 – found in chicken, fish, pork, whole heat products, brown rice, fruits and vegetables

  • Vitamin C – found in citrus fruits, parsley, bell pepper, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts

  • Vitamin E – found in wheat germ, vegetable oils, nuts, avocadoes, green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals

Minerals

Minerals are vital for brain health. Many people rely on supplements to get them but the best way is through whole foods. Here are the key brain food minerals and the foods that will deliver them

  • Boron – found in pears, apples, peaches, grapes, raisins, nuts, peanuts, leafy vegetables, beans

  • Iron – found in meat, poultry, fish, green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas and dried fruits

  • Magnesium – found in green leafy vegetables, firm tofu, halibut, potato skins, whole grains, nuts, seeds and bananas

  • Copper – found in organ meats, seafoods, nuts, seeds, wholegrain breads, chocolate

  • Zinc – found in red meats, liver, eggs, dairy products, and some seafood

  • Selenium – found in seafood, liver, eggs and Brazil Nuts

Vegetables

According to a study by the Chicago Health and Aging Project, elderly people who ate three servings of vegetables per day slowed their natural aging cognitive decline by 40 percent. Here are the best veggies for your brain.

  • Avocados – Avocados are full of fibre, vitamins and potassium. The mono-saturated fat contributes to healthy blood flow and lower blood pressure.

  • Greens – Spinach, kale and collards help reduce natural ageing. Spinach may lessen brain damage from strokes and disorders.

  • Sweet potatoes – sweet potatoes and other deeply colored vegetables are full of B-6, vitamin C and beta-carotene.

  • Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cabbage and collared greens contain vitamins along with a chemical known as indole-3-carinol, which repairs damaged DNA.

As you can see, eating your veggies is essential if you want your brain to function at its best. The old dietary recommendation was five servings of vegetables and fruits per day. However, the USA now recommends 5-9 servings per day. For optimal cerebral performance set you goal at 9-10 servings per day.

Fruit

Fruits are packed with nutritional goodness that provides a whole host of brain benefits. Here are the crème de la crème of the fruit world as far as brain boosting potential goes . . .

  • Blueberries – Blueberries will improve your memory, improve your motor skills, balance and coordination. They also help the arteries to contract, which improves your blood pressure. Rats who have been put on a blueberry rich diet have been shown to lean better.

  • Strawberries – Strawberries are packed with antioxidants. These are great for the memory. A chemical called fisetin, which is a bioflavonoid, is especially important to the brain. It is also found in kiwifruit, onions, tomatoes, oranges and apples. Other high antioxidant fruits include blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, and raspberries.

  • Apples – Red Delicious and Northern Spry apples are especially rich in phenolics, which is a chemical that protects the brain from damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

  • Red Grapes – red grapes have been found to potentially reverse the aging of neurons in the brain. The chemical resveratrol is another brain enhancer found in grapes.

  • Pomegranate – mice that were fed pomegranate juice were able to negotiate their way through mazes 35 times faster than their peers. Mice that were fed with pomegranate juice were also 50 percent less likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease.

Spices

You might not have thought of spices as having a beneficial brain effect. However, the following additives can give you a real brain boost . . .

  • Turmeric – The chemical curcumin that gives turmeric its yellow appearance activates a key anti-oxidizing enzyme that reduces plaque build-up. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Saffron – Saffron, when taken twice per day, was shown to be as effective as Prozac in treating mild to moderate depression, as revealed in a 2005 study that was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

  • Sage – this herb turns out to be aptly named as it has the ability to boost your cognitive ability. That is because it is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Chinese sage root contains compounds that are similar to Alzheimer’s Disease drugs. Research in the Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior showed that 50 micro-litres of sage oil extract significantly enhanced memory. Adding sage to your salads, soups, and even on your pizza is a smart move.

  • Cinnamon – cinnamon is a spice which helps to regulate sugar levels, reduce the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells, reduce clotting of blood platelets, and acts as an anti-microbial.

Chocolate

Chocolate can help to make you smarter, improve mood and task organization. The chemicals in the cacao / coco bean, from which chocolate is made, contains the feel good chemical flavanol, which improves mood and offsets depression. Just don’t go overboard (for the sake of your waistline).

Green and Black Tea

Green tea is packed with brain boosting chemicals. Catechins provide nerve energy, have a powerful antioxidant effect. It may also be anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.

Also found in green tea are polyphenols. They support mood, provide antioxidants for heart health, protect against brain disorders and keep brain sugar levels steady.

Tannins help the brain to recover from brain disorders and stroke. L-Theanine increases serotonin, dopamine and anxiety reducing GABA levels. They also relax alpha waves, the calm brain activity that we experience when we are resting with our eyes closed.

Green and black teas are also known to prevent the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters. This provides the same effect as drugs that treat Alzheimer’s. You should drink two cups of green or black tea per day.

 

Learn More About Other Healthy Ingredients in Our Nut Butters or Read Our Ultimate Guide to Nuts.

 


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