Does what you eat make you smarter? Yes and no. While a well-balanced diet won’t transform you into a Jeopardy champion, it will sharpen your thinking ability. How alert do you feel after eating a greasy bag of fast food or cream-filled doughnut? The road to Food Coma is paved with empty calories devoid of nutritional content. Your brain will perform better if fueled by healthy fats, fiber, protein, vitamins, and antioxidants. If you’d like to boost your brain power, eat these 10 healthy foods that make you smarter.
If you tend to snack on a candy bar at work, swap that with some nuts for a more productive afternoon. Sugar will give you a quick hit of energy but it doesn’t last long (and is followed by a sudden, vicious crash). Swapping those empty calories with some healthy fats will give you longer-lasting energy and an improved ability to think. Just make sure you stick with a handful or two per day, because there can be too much of a good thing. All nuts are not created equally, so click here for a guide to the best and worst nuts for your health.
Note: A recent study published in Neurology found that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids did not improve cognitive function in older women. The jury is still out but nuts are a positive and convenient alternative to sugar-laden snacks that won’t sustain you.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increased fish intake could reduce the risk of dementia by 20%.
If you’d like a morning pick-me-up that will boost your brain power, start your day with a cup of green tea. Tea is packed with antioxidants that increase neuron production in your brain. A study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that EGCG, an inorganic compound in green tea, prevents memory loss and degenerative diseases.
4. Spinach/Leafy Greens
Swap your fries with a salad or green vegetables for a more positive brain-boosting alternative. Leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collard, and mustard greens are packed with antioxidants that could slow down or reverse memory loss. A study at Harvard Medical School followed 13,000 women for 25 years and found that increased vegetable intake was associated with reduced cognitive decline.
A bowl of Captain Crunch might be tasty but it isn’t beneficial for your brain. Simple sugars provide you with a sudden rise in blood sugar that is followed by an equally sudden crash. Oatmeal is a slow-digesting food that will provide you with sustainable energy and brain power that will last for several hours.
Think oatmeal is a bit gross by itself? Sprinkle it with some brown sugar and berries for a tasty treat your brain will appreciate. A study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that eating berries could “delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.”
A study published in the journal Neurology found that drinking two cups of hot cocoa per day for 30 days improved memory and brain blood flow in elderly people with impaired blood flow.
A cup of Joe will provide you with an immediate hit of energy that will help you focus on the task at hand. To discover how beer and coffee affect your brain, click here.
Egg yolks are a quality source of chlorine, a substance that strengthens your memory and brain power. A study at the Boston University School of Medicine found that high chlorine intake is associated with better scores in memory tests and reduced likelihood of brain changes that precede dementia.
Dehydration can damage your ability to focus and recall information, so make sure you’re drinking at least 8 cups of water per day to keep your brain happy and hydrated.
Make sure you have one of these foods that make you smarter with lunch to avoid mid-afternoon exhaustion. If you used to eat fast food for lunch and have since made a healthy change, did you notice a difference in your energy or memory as a result?
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