1. Dark Chocolate
http://www.theinspirely.comDark chocolate contains cocoa, also known as cacao. Cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.
Antioxidants are especially important for brain health, as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases.
Cacao flavonoids seem to be good for the brain. According to a 2013 review, they may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning. They may also stimulate blood flow in the brain.
Some research also suggests that the flavonoid component of chocolate may reverse memory problems in snails. Scientists have yet to test this in humans.
However, a 2018 study in humans also supports the brain-boosting effects of dark chocolate. The researchers used imaging methods to look at activity in the brain after participants ate chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.
The researchers concluded that eating this type of dark chocolate may improve brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning and may also provide other brain-related benefits.
2. Nuts and Seeds
Eating more nuts and seeds may be good for the brain, as these foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
A 2014 study found that higher overall nut intake was linked to better brain function in older age.
Nuts and seeds are also rich sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
As a person ages, their brain may be exposed to this form of oxidative stress, and vitamin E may, therefore, support brain health in older age.
A 2014 review found that vitamin E may also contribute to improved cognition and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Like dark chocolate, many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Research suggests that these may make the berries good food for the brain.
Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in berries include anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin.
4. Whole Grains
Eating whole grains is another way to benefit from the effects of vitamin E, with these grains being a good source of the vitamin.
Whole-grain foods include:
- brown rice
- Bulgar wheat
Coffee is a well-known concentration aid — many drink it to stay awake and encourage focus.
The caffeine in coffee blocks a substance in the brain called adenosine, which makes a person feel sleepy.
Beyond boosting alertness, a 2018 study suggests that caffeine may also increase the brain’s capacity for processing information.
The researchers found that caffeine causes an increase in brain entropy, which refers to complex and variable brain activity. When entropy is high, the brain can process more information.
A source of healthful unsaturated fat, avocados may support the brain.
Eating monounsaturated fats may reduce blood pressure, and high blood pressure is linked with cognitive decline.
Thus, by reducing high blood pressure, the unsaturated fats in avocados may lower the risk of cognitive decline.
Peanuts are a legume with an excellent nutritional profile. They contain plenty of unsaturated fats and protein to keep a person’s energy levels up throughout the day. Peanuts also provide key vitamins and minerals to keep the brain healthy, including high levels of vitamin E and resveratrol. Resveratrol is a natural non-flavonoid antioxidant found in peanuts, mulberries, and rhubarb. Evidence from a review article suggests that resveratrol can have protective effects, such as helping to prevent cancers, inflammation, and neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.