As the saying goes, you are what you eat. It turns out that this phrase is more true than most people think!
What you consume has a big effect on how your brain functions. As a matter of fact, a person’s memory, concentration, and even mood are affected by the various types of food they eat. Consider the fact that certain elements of a meal go directly into the synthesis of neurotransmitters that enable the brain to operate at peak performance. If deficiencies of these components exist, then the brain will suffer. Sluggishness and even a depressed mood can result. Below are some superfoods and recipes that have the right combination of nutrients to give your body much-needed brain food.
1. Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes
Blueberries are no stranger to “superfood” lists, but this recipe has extra ingredients to provide more bang for your buck. Research has shown that blueberries provide a cognitive boost in reasoning skills, decision making, and verbal comprehension. The whole wheat provides your body with carbohydrates, which is the preferred energy source for your brain, as well as a low glycemic index.
2. Tuna Burgers
This mood-improving recipe calls for a spin on the classic burger ingredients. Tuna is one of the best sources of Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) and Vitamin B6 (or pyridoxine). If there is a deficiency of these nutrients, depression can result. Pyridoxine even helps in the synthesis of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters targeted by antidepressant medications. Get the recipe here.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
There is one important reason why you should be eating pumpkin seeds right now: zinc. For starters, pumpkin seeds are packed with this stuff. Studies have shown that individuals with ADHD have lower levels of zinc. That may simply be a correlation, but zinc can also detoxify your brain from heavy metals!
4. Spiked Caribbean Salsa
Who wouldn’t want a superfood that includes rum? The ingredients call for mangos, bell peppers, onions, cilantro, lime juice, orange juice, coconut, and papaya. That last one is what gives this recipe its brain-boosting qualities. Papaya is packed with folic acid which some researchers say is a great adjunct for managing depression. Not only that, but the whole dish is loaded with tons of Vitamin C; so it can help maintain immunity and promote neurotransmitter creation.
5. Yogurt and Sunflower Seeds
Having healthy amounts of iron in your body is important because low levels have been associated with ADD symptoms. Magnesium and zinc are also critical. This superfood combo is loaded with all three, making it a great recipe to promote dopamine regulation. Dopamine is your body’s “happy hormone,” so why wouldn’t you want to maximize it?
6. Country Sausage Gravy
Looking for a hearty recipe that has the added bonus of improving memory? Try this one: the country sausage and gravy recipe calls for the super herb sage. A placebo controlled study actually found that this ingredient improved memory recall compared to participants who did not consume sage. Get this brain-boosting recipe here.
7. Lentil Soup
If you want a slightly healthier alternative to country sausage, maybe lentil soup will do the trick. As the recipe points out, this dish can help provide the necessary ingredients for your brain to utilize serotonin. In fact, research suggests that folic acid could help manage medication-resistant forms of mood disorders.
8. Shrimp and Cocktail Sauce
Did you know that shrimp contain an essential nutrient called selenium? If someone had low levels of this mineral, decreased cognition and depression could result. Shrimp also boast a healthy amount of astaxanthin, which may even have benefits in preventing diabetes. Check out the recipe for a quick tip for making your own cocktail sauce.
9. Anything with chocolate in it
Don’t resist your sweet tooth! Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which is a psychoactive substance that makes people feel like they are in love. Snack on chocolate next time you are looking for a quick mood-boosting rush of endorphins.
10. Grilled Salmon
We have all heard about omega-3 and its numerous health benefits, but did you know that it has a proven effect in fighting depression? A recent study looked at its adjunctive effect at managing mood disorders. It turns out that omega-3, which is plentiful in salmon, can be beneficial for elevating mood and possibly even combating bipolar disorder.
Featured photo credit: sara marlowe via flickr.com