by Fiora Stevens on March 22, 2013
Boost your brain power and keep your cognitive processes running smoothly into old age with these top ten brain foods.
1. Olive Oil
Drizzling your salad with olive oil or using it to sauté veggies may help preserve your brain’s overall health and function as you age. A 2010 study found that diets rich in monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, can improve scores on test of overall cognitive function as well as verbal memory.
Like olive oil, avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which also contribute to proper blood flow to the brain and lower blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is a significant contributor to cognitive decline, eating foods like avocados that lower your risk of hypertension is a great way to ward off age-related brain power shortages.
Rich in Omega-3s, sardines give your brain the fatty acids it needs to build and maintain cell membranes. Diets containing high amounts of Omega-3s have also been associated with improved memory and focus, as well as a lower long-term risk of dementia.
These fiber and protein-rich nuts contain another type of Omega-3 not found in animal sources: alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA. Plus, just about every type of nut, including walnuts, is rich in vitamin E, which can improve blood flow and ensure that your brain is getting the oxygen it needs to work efficiently.
Popeye may have had the right idea. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who consumed more green leafy vegetables over 25 years exhibited fewer signs of age-related cognitive decline than those who avoided veggies like spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
Women who drink coffee have a far lower risk of developing depression than those who don’t, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although the effects haven’t been studied in men, it’s likely that this benefit translates to them, too.
If you’re not a fan of coffee, freshly brewed tea is an excellent alternative. Lower levels of caffeine may still protect the brain from depression and boost focus and memory without the risk of anxiety and jitteriness, while the antioxidants in tea improve blood flow to the brain.
Your brain runs on glucose, which means that maintaining steady levels of blood sugar help your brain to work better. Beans provide a steady source of energy to your brain, along with protein, fiber, and minerals that keep the rest of your body functioning well.
Since they’re frequently touted as an antioxidant-rich superfood, you may be getting somewhat bored of blueberries. But this little fact might reinvigorate your love for this fruit: a study in mice found that a blueberry-enriched diet can not only prevent, but can actually reverse memory loss related to object recognition.
When it comes to immediate cognitive decline, dehydration is a serious culprit. In fact, when you don’t drink enough water, your brain actually shrinks. This means that your brain works far less efficiently than when it is hydrated, likely leading to impaired executive functions.