“Everything in the brain that isn’t made by the brain itself is ‘imported’ from the food we eat,” says neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi, PhD. So food doesn’t just supply us with energy and strength—it fuels our brain! Here are four foods that play an important role in keeping our brains healthy:
All right, water isn’t a food per se, but it’s crucial for the health of your brain. Being dehydrated has a negative impact on the blood that flows to your brain, and that affects overall brain function. On the flipside of that, staying hydrated helps your brain get the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
If you have a hard time drinking enough water, you could try using water-drinking apps or a smart water bottle. You could also set a reminder on your phone or team up with a friend to keep each other accountable. That way, you can get more brainpower together!
Complex carbohydrates are good for your brain, too. Remember, complex carbohydrates contain more nutrients than simple carbohydrates and are higher in fiber. Some examples include whole grains, fruits (like apples and bananas), vegetables (like carrots and leafy greens), and beans.
According to Ask the Scientists, “Because your body must absorb and metabolize sugars before they make it to the brain, it’s actually best to focus on eating complex carbohydrates. They power your body and keep your brain operating at optimal levels.”
Not only are berries a delicious summer staple, but they have been shown to improve cognition and memory. One study found that blueberries, specifically, “improved short-term memory, navigational skills, balance, coordination, and reaction time.” Berries may also slow mental decline associated with aging.
While berries are generally a summer fruit, the good news is they keep well in the freezer for later. Make a smoothie out of them, add them to your oats, or put them on top of a cake—the possibilities are endless (and delicious)! Check out the DTSA Farmers’ Market for these and other fresh ingredients.
Last, but certainly not least, cacao is a brain-builder and a mood lifter. One study found that drinking cocoa helped participants have better cognitive function and better blood flow to the brain. “Eating raw chocolate can also elevate mood,” says Brian Vaszily at the Art of Anti-Aging. “This is because cacao contains some very interesting neurotransmitters, sometimes called ‘love chemicals,’ associated with motivation and pleasure.” Now you have an excuse to eat chocolate: It’s good for your brain!
When it comes to planning your menu for the week, don’t forget about your brain! Your brain needs fuel to perform at its best. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, and add complex carbohydrates, berries, and cacao to your diet for the best brain health of your life.