As we age, we may notice changes in our cognitive abilities, such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating. And while there’s no magical food that can help prevent cognitive decline, research suggests that certain foods high in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals can support brain health and may even improve memory.
In fact, there is a direct connection between the gut and the brain, which is where we get the term ‘brain food’. Eating the right foods help support the creation of neurotransmitters and hormones in your digestive system, that then enter your brain and improve cognitive abilities, keeping it functioning at its best. So, when your gut is functioning well, your brain is too.
Wondering which foods are best for your brain? We’ve gathered the 17 best foods to eat for brain health and memory.
17 Best Foods for Brain Health and Memory
- Fatty Fish – Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential for brain health as they make up a significant portion of brain cell membranes. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the brain and improve cognitive function.
- Blueberries – These tiny berries are packed with antioxidants – some of the highest levels known to man. Those antioxidants, along with vitamins C, K, and fiber, help protect the brain from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a process that can damage cells and contribute to the development of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Additionally, research suggests that the flavonoids in blueberries may improve memory and cognitive function.
- Bone Broth – When it comes to healing your gut, and therefore healing your brain, bone broth is the ultimate brain food. An ancient food that is full of health benefits, it not only improves a leaky gut, but can also help with allergies and your overall joint health. Bone broth contains high levels of collagen, which reduces inflammation in your intestines. And amino acids improve your immune system which helps to improve your memory.
- Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help protect the brain from oxidative stress. Additionally, some studies have found that consuming nuts and seeds may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
- Celery – Celery is not only low in calories, but it is also packed with vitamins and minerals, and offers a wide range of health benefits. Additionally, it contains polysaccharides and antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation and symptoms related to inflammation, such as irritable bowel syndrome and joint pain.
- Dark Chocolate – Not all chocolate is created equal. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which have been shown to improve blood flow to the brain and improve cognitive function. In addition, the caffeine and theobromine in dark chocolate can help improve focus and concentration.
- Leafy Greens – Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, are rich in nutrients that are essential for brain health, such as vitamin K, folate, and beta carotene. And research suggests that consuming leafy greens may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, a compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research suggests that curcumin may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related mental deterioration.
- Eggs – Eggs, specifically egg yolks, are an excellent source of choline, a nutrient that is essential for brain health. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory and cognitive function. And some research suggests that consuming choline-rich foods may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
- Avocados – Don’t dismiss avocados just because they’re high in fat. These little green powerhouses are rich in monounsaturated fats, which can help improve blood flow to the brain and improve cognitive function. Additionally, avocados are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help protect the brain from oxidative stress. And the Vitamin K and folate they contain can help to reduce your risk of stroke by preventing blood clots in the brain.
- Broccoli – Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is rich in nutrients that help to keep your memory sharp, such as vitamin K and choline. Phytonutrients protect your brain cells, and compounds called glucosinolates have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can protect the brain from damage.
- Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, a mineral that is essential for brain function. Zinc plays a role in the communication between brain cells and is involved in the formation of new neurons. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, which can help protect the brain from oxidative stress.
- Beets – Beets are a root vegetable that are rich in nitrates, compounds that can boost blood flow to the brain and improve mental performance. They are particularly great for tough workouts, as they improve energy and muscle performance levels. Beets are also a good source of cancer-protecting antioxidants, which can help protect the brain from oxidative stress and rid your blood of toxins.
- Green Tea – Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, two compounds that can improve cognitive function and reduce stress. Green tea is also rich in antioxidants, which can help protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduces the risk of mental deterioration over time.
- Whole Grains – Whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, and brown rice, are a good source of complex carbohydrates, which provide a steady supply of glucose to the brain. Glucose is the brain’s primary source of energy, and a steady supply is essential for optimal brain function. Whole grains are also rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and magnesium, which are essential for brain health.
- Oranges – Oranges are a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help protect the brain from oxidative stress. Additionally, research suggests that vitamin C may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant that can help protect the brain from oxidative stress. Additionally, research suggests that lycopene may improve cognitive function as you age, which can reduce your risk of mental decline.
Remember, no single food can prevent cognitive decline on its own. But by adding some of the best foods for brain health into your diet, you’re well on your way to supporting your memory and cognitive function for a healthier and happier life.
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