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Published on September 28, 2018

Stock up on These 9 Healthy Snack Foods to Boost Your Brainpower

Stock up on These 9 Healthy Snack Foods to Boost Your Brainpower

Brain food is food that is beneficial to the brain. Like our skin and our stomachs, certain foods contribute to the nourishment and treating of these areas of the body. The brain also needs certain foods to help boost its power so that we are functioning at our best daily. We should be stocking up on brain food!

The brain, the complex machine that controls our entire being, is actually easy to feed and nourish. Certain foods feed us nutrients and provide benefits that many of us are unaware of. For instance, Barbara Shukitt- Hale, USDA Nutrition Research Facility at Tufts University states the following about the nutrients we consume:

“Plants have developed mechanisms to deal with stresses in the environment. Because of sunlight, smog, and temperature they have developed antioxidant or anti- inflammatory capabilities. When we ingest them they are protective in our bodies as well.”

In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of healthy brain foods and will recommend to you the best 9 healthy snack foods to boost your brainpower!

The Importance of Brain Food and How it Helps The Brain

Our brains control everything that we do. Certain chemicals impact the way it works in good and bad ways. Brian food helps increase your intellectual power! According to an article published by Fernando Gomez- Pinilla, Departments of Neurosurgery and Physiological Science at UCLA:[1]

“Research over the past 5 years has provided exciting evidence for the influence of dietary factors on specific molecular systems and mechanisms that maintain mental function. For instance, a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids is garnering appreciation for supporting cognitive processes in humans and upregulating genes that are important for maintaining synaptic function and plasticity in rodents.”

The classical saying “you are what you eat” holds a lot of value and truth as proven by research. Here’s some insight:

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  • Amino Acids are derived from protein and help support and connect your neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help keep the brain sharp — dopamine for nervous system function, serotonin for mood, memory, and learning, norepinephrine for alertness and concentration, and acetylcholine for storage and recollection of memory.
  • Glucose is what gives the brain energy. Brains get almost all of their energy from glucose.
  • Fatty Acids such as polyunsaturated, omega-3, and omega 6 help strengthen nerve cells which help strengthen memory.
  • Antioxidants inhibit oxidization. Antioxidants remove damaging oxidizing agents in living organism.

Lack of Brain Food and Its Effect on The Brain

I discussed the great impacts of brain food consumption for the brain. Lack of brain food will have a reverse impact. Lack of brain food can cause memory, cognitive, blood sugar imbalance, brain fog, nutrient deficiencies, and mood difficulty.

    Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, and mood is produced in the gastrointestinal tract (the digestive track that takes food, digests, extracts, and absorbs the energy and nutrients from food consumption).

    Simply put, proper brain food is essential to your everyday health. Brain food is essential for a healthy digestive tract which is needed for healthy serotonin levels. Healthy serotonin levels are essential for healthy sleep, appetite, and mood.

    Other physical difficulties can result from lack of brain foods: blood pressure, increased acuteness, and irritability to name a few.

    Brain food is essential to our lives because they feed the machine that keep us going. Lack of brain food means lack of proper care for ourselves.

    What Foods Harm The Brain?

    It’s no secret that certain types of foods are bad for us in multiple ways. Healthy brain food consumption can be looked at and handled just like consuming food for weight loss. There are some foods that feed your entire being for overall health and many that you should stay away from in high quantities because they negatively impact your entire being, here are a few:

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    • Sugary foods and beverages– higher sugar levels in the blood can increase the risk of dementia.
    • Trans and saturated fat– this one has been a known fact for weight; however, linked to the brain, observational studies have found an association between saturated fat intake and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Refined Carbohydrates– this also includes sugar. Please note that refined carbs turn into sugar. This means that they turn into high glycemic food. Foods high in GL (glycemic load) have been found to impair brain function.
    • Aspartame– “but I’ve been told it’s a sweetener, a sugar substitute, and better than consuming sugar”. Aspartame is used as a sugar substitute more so for weight loss because it has 0 calories. It may be effective for weight loss; however, it is a food that can be harmful to the brain. Aspartame is a product made up of phenylalanine, methanol, and aspartic acid.[2]
    • Phenylalanine– can cross the blood-brain barrier and might disrupt the production of neurotransmitters- serotonin.[3]
    • Methanol– can cause metabolic acidosis causing central nervous system disturbances.[4]
    • Processed foods– generally the foods found in the middle of the grocery store, these foods tend to be high in fats, sugar, and salt. Not only do these foods cause weight gain, that gain is harmful to the brain.

    A study of 243 people found increased fat around the organs, or visceral fat, to be associated with brain tissue damage.[5][6]

    9 Healthy Foods to Boost Your Brainpower

    1. Avocado

    These amazing, green, circles/ovals of joy are packed with nutrients! If you like guacamole, then you like avocadoes! Avocado is a fruit consisting of healthy carbs, fat, and vitamins:

    • Vitamin K– synthesizes certain proteins that are prerequisites for blood coagulation.
    • Folate– one of the B-vitamins that is needed to make red and white blood cells in bone marrow, convert carbs to energy, and produce DNA.
    • Vitamin C– cannot be produced in the body therefore awareness on consumption is essential. Vitamin C is a necessary antioxidant for strengthening the body’s natural defenses, also known as immune system.
    • Potassium– a mineral and electrolyte, that produces electrical impulses around the body and assist with: blood pressure, muscle contractions, nerve impulses, digestion, and heart rhythm.
    • Vitamin B5– essential for the production of energy and breaking down fats and carbohydrates.
    • Vitamin B6– necessary for normal brain development and for keeping the nervous and immune system healthy.
    • Vitamin E– dissolves fat and supports vision, reproduction, and healthy blood, brain, and skin.

    2. Walnuts

    Understandably, those with nut allergies cannot consume walnuts.

    For those that can, walnuts provide amazing benefits, like having twice as many antioxidants than almonds and peanuts. These small nuts are packed with DHA (omega’s), protein and minerals.

    3. Spinach

    A study conducted by Rush University showed that people that 1-2 servings of greens, like spinach, for 5 years, had the cognitive abilities of someone 11 years younger.

    Spinach is loaded with vitamin K, folate, beta carotene (an antioxidant), and lutein (an antioxidant).

    4. Dark Chocolate

    This is a win. chocolate for brain food!

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    Chocolate has high levels of flavanols. Dr. Bret S. Stetka, MD, states the following about flavanols:

    “These abundant phenolic plant compounds have marked antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are thought to be responsible for much of the health benefit ascribed to chocolate consumption”.

    Studies like the Swedish Mammography Cohort study found the following results:

    Increasing chocolate consumption by 50 g per week reduced

    • Cerebral infarction risk by 12%
    • Hemorrhagic stroke risk by 27%,
    • Total stroke risk by 14%

    5. Green Tea

    Green tea is known to be a powerful antioxidant beverage that helps improve brain function, contributes to fat loss, and reduces risk of cancer.

    Additionally, loaded with L-theanine (an amino acid), it increases dopamine.

    6. Kale

    Kale has so much of what we need in one bunch. Loaded with iron, folate, vitamin B6, and protein, it has everything that the brain needs to produce serotonin and dopamine.

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    7. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants; however, have an added benefit- lycopene. Lycopene regulates the genes in the brain that influence inflammation and contribute to brain growth.

    8. Sage

    Besides adding amazing flavor, sage is makes for great brain food. It’s an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Not only is it used for pain relief, but it also contributes to the enhancement of memory and cognitive abilities.

    9. Chia

    A little seed packed with huge benefits. Chia seeds are rich in DHA (omega)and a complete protein.

    This means that they carry 9 of the essential amino acids necessary to keep moods sable and brains functioning at their best.

    Conclusion

    Eating mindfully is essential for our well beings. Our brain control everything. We feed it knowledge, we also need to feed it proper nutrients. Stock up on these brain foods to keep that machine running at its best!

    Featured photo credit: Mohammad Jafar Mansuri via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Veronica Castillo

    Vee Castil; Resume & Career Writer ᛫ Traveler ᛫ Vegan ᛫ Weight Loss Success (-85lbs)

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    Last Updated on June 24, 2019

    15 Easy-to-Make Crockpot Freezer Meals for Busy Nights

    15 Easy-to-Make Crockpot Freezer Meals for Busy Nights

    You work all day, and you come home exhausted and hungry. Naturally, the last thing you want to do is to spend hours in the kitchen cooking dinner. If you love cooking, but your busy schedule doesn’t allow you to cook every night, you can simplify your life by making crockpot freezer meals. These meals will allow you to still eat homemade, healthy, filling dinners without the countless hours and enormous effort spent in the kitchen. You can store the simple ingredients in freezer bags and put them in the crockpot when it is time for dinner, or you can cook over the weekend and stock your freezer with delicious ready meals that will make your life easier. Here are 15 easy-to-make recipes to make delicious dinners for busy nights!

    1. Cheesy Tortellini With Ground Beef

    Cheesy tortellini with ground beef

      This is a perfect crockpot freezer meal that even your kids will love. The best thing of all is that it’s incredibly easy to prepare. All you have to do is crumble some ground beef and combine all the recipe’s ingredients in your crockpot. The other ingredients needed for this super delicious meal include tomatoes, herbs, and onions. Tortellini is one of the most commonly ordered meals when eating out, but this way you will get to eat a homemade, healthier version of the popular dish. Find the recipe here.

      2. Cranberry Pork Roast

      Cranberry pork roast

        Cranberry pork roast is a gluten-free meal that everyone can make, regardless of their culinary skills. The dish requires only these few ingredients: onion, cranberry sauce, bone-in pork shoulder, and honey. To prepare this mouthwatering dish, simply combine all the ingredients together in the crockpot and let them cook. If you don’t like pork or if you prefer not to eat it, you can easily use beef as a substitute without impacting the flavor. Click here to see the recipe.

        3. Greens and Beans

        Greens and beans

          Greens and beans are the ideal dishes if you want a dish that is both delicious and nutrient-dense. Combine vegetable broth with beans, garlic, kale, escalore, and Parmesan, and let cook. The result will be a dish with a soup-like consistency that will fill you up and provide you with a lot of vitamins and minerals.

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          As a bonus, if you or someone else in your family suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or some other common types of arthritis, greens and beans can reduce the inflammation. That’s because kale and other veggies rich in Vitamin K are anti-inflammatory and are known for relieving arthritis. Click here and start cooking!

          4. Chicken Curry

          Chicken curry

            That is yet another gluten-free recipe that you’ll love to make. Chicken curry requires basic ingredients such as tomato paste, coconut milk, honey, onions, and garlic, in addition to chicken and curry of course.The result is a sweet and spicy dish where different flavors are perfectly balanced. Find the recipe here.

            5. Honey Sesame Chicken

            Honey sesame chicken

              Honey sesame chicken is a simple and effortless dish that delivers an amazing taste. To make this wonderful recipe, you have to combine all the ingredients except for the sesame seeds and green onions and let them cook. Use the sesame seeds and green onions for garnish when serving. Click here for the full recipe.

              6. Mushroom Spinach Stroganoff

              Mushroom spinach stroganoff

                In this warm weather, many people opt to eat lighter food that is easy on the stomach. Mushroom spinach stroganoff fits the bill being a vegetable version of a famous comfort food that you and your family will love. The dish requires simple ingredients such as sour cream, onion, garlic, ketchup, vegetables, and mushrooms. This dish is very simple to make, and thanks to your crockpot, you won’t have much work to do. Find the recipe here.

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                7. Stuffed Peppers

                Stuffed peppers

                  If you’re looking for a healthy, simple, and delicious recipe, you’ll love this one! These crockpot stuffed peppers are easy to make, and they require only a few ingredients such as ground turkey or beef, onion, garlic, bell peppers, and pasta sauce. This meal will remind you of grandma’s kitchen. You can find the recipe here.

                  8. Cilantro and Lime Chicken

                  Cilantro and lime chicken

                    Summer is the perfect season to experiment with more exotic flavors, and this meal can help you do just that. To make cilantro and lime chicken, you will need to combine some simple ingredients such as lime, jalapeno peppers, fresh cilantro, and salsa. The result is chicken that is super tender and that you’ll want to make over and over again, so get the recipe here.

                    9. Beef Fajitas

                    Beef fajitas

                      This is an excellent meal for busy weeknights. The best thing about this recipe is that the required ingredients are probably already there in your kitchen. The recipe is also quite simple — combine all the items in a crockpot, cover, and let cook.

                      The result will be beef and peppers that melt in your mouth. You can easily pair this beef fajita with rice and tortillas and get a meal that the entire family will love. You can find the recipe for this delicious beef fajita here.

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                      10. Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

                      Asian chicken lettuce wraps

                        Asian chicken lettuce wraps are sweet, slightly salty and very easy to make. All you need to do is add the chicken, red bell pepper, carrots, soy sauce, honey, garlic and the other ingredients to your crockpot and let them cook. You can also replace the chicken with beef or turkey if you like. The presence of different flavors gives this meal a summer flavor you are sure to love. Learn how to make this meal here.

                        11. Hawaiian Chicken

                        Hawaiian chicken

                          This dish enjoys phenomenal exotic tones due to pineapple and lemon flavors. To make this yummy crockpot freezer meal, you need skinless chicken breasts, peppers, ginger and corn starch, in addition to the iconic pineapple and lemon. Learn how to make this perfect summer dinner here.

                          12. Beef and Barley Stew

                          Beef and barley stewd

                            Beef and barley stew is as healthy as it is delicious. Not to mention it’s incredibly easy to make. Besides the beef and barley, you’ll also need carrots, peppers, herbs and beef broth. The result will be a mouthwatering stew that you can serve alone or over white rice. Get the recipe here.

                            13. Meatball Soup

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                            Meatball soup

                              This soup is very delicious, easy to make and quite versatile. You will be able to swap ingredients and experiment to find your perfect combination. To make this meatball soup, you will need to combine meatballs with pasta sauce, chicken broth, carrots, beans, zucchini, and onion. You can view the recipe here.

                              14. Turkey Black Bean Chili

                              Turkey black bean chili

                                Everybody loves chili and for good reason — it’s very delicious, and it’s a perfect combination of different flavors that balance each other out. To make this chili, you’ll need ground turkey, tomato sauce, black beans, paprika, frozen corns, and a few other ingredients. You can get the full recipe here and have this delicious dish ready when you come back from work on those busy nights.

                                15. Ham and Pinto Bean Soup

                                Ham and pinto bean soup

                                  What makes soups special is the fact they’re tasty, healthy and filling at the same time. This soup is no exception. The best quality of this ham and pinto bean soup, however, is its simplicity; it requires only five ingredients: ham, beans, ketchup, salt, and water. Learn how to make this soup here.

                                  Conclusion

                                  With a demanding work week and a busy schedule, it’s normal to have a low energy level by the time you get home. If you don’t feel like standing in the kitchen and cooking dinner due to this, you don’t have to resort to junk food. These freezer crockpot meals offer you the perfect solution for healthy meals that require minimal preparation. You can either combine each recipe’s ingredients in a freezer bag to be thawed and cooked in a few minutes, or you can cook your meal and freeze it to be used later, it’s up to you.

                                  This article showed you 15 easy and simple recipes that you can make using your crockpot. All of these recipes contain anti-inflammatory foods whether it is in the form of vegetable, herbs or spices to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

                                  Featured photo credit: Google via bettycrocker.com

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