Having a healthy diet is crucial for brain health. Our brain is mainly made from fat and we need quality fats in our diet to keep our brain healthy. Fats are essential to our physical and mental health and we shouldn’t fear or avoid them but choose and consume them wisely. Healthy fats are also essential for children to ensure proper growth and brain development so make sure your children are eating healthy foods too! Here are 7 foods that you and your family can eat to optimize brain function.
- Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, hemp, flax and chia seeds are rich in beneficial fats and antioxidants, which nourish and protect the brain. Nuts are also a great source of vitamin E, which is essential to cognitive function. Avoid roasted and salted nuts, and whenever possible, choose organic, raw nuts. Remember that peanuts are not a nut but a legume.
Avocados are a great source of fats and vitamin E. Its monounsaturated fats improve memory and concentration, brain development, as well as lower blood cholesterol. Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant, helps to protect the brain against free radicals. Add avocado to your salads, sandwiches or smash it on a piece of whole grain bread for breakfast. Avocado purees are also excellent for babies!
- Fatty fish
Fatty fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids (DHA), which are nutrients that are essential for brain health. Omega-3s improves mood, alertness, concentration and memory, and help to reduce depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, as well as reduce inflammation in the body. Make sure you choose good quality fish such as wild salmon, pacific halibut, albacore tuna and sardines, and avoid the ones that are overfished or caught or farmed in ways that harm marine life or the environment.
- Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains saturated fats but its saturated fats are harmless. They are actually very beneficial for us. Coconut oil is known to increase brain function and support memory, as well as have therapeutic effects on brain disorders. Coconut oil also helps to reduce sugar cravings and is excellent for heart health. Add extra-virgin coconut oil to your smoothies, stir-fries or baked goods. You can consume up to 1-2 tablespoons a day.
Eggs are one of the most nature’s perfect foods. They are a great source of proteins and choline, which improve memory and concentration. Organic eggs are also an excellent source of selenium and omega-3s, which is proven to improve mood. The omega-3s found in pastured-raised eggs will also help to reduce inflammation in the body as well as in the brain. Make sure you get organic, pastured-raised eggs and eat the whole egg; not just the white. The yolk is alkaline and contains all the vitamins.
Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, acai and goji berries are high in antioxidants, which protect the brain from oxidative damage and stress. It also helps to boost brain function and improve learning capacities. Berries are also low on the glycemic index, which help to keep blood sugar stable. Berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, are heavily sprayed with pesticides so if possible, choose organic.
Oats are very nutritious. They are a great source of vitamin B and E, healthy fats, antioxidants and fiber. They also provide glucose, which is the brain’s fuel. Try to choose steel-cut or rolled oats instead of instant oats since instant oats are more processed. For a nutritional boost, add berries and flax seeds, and if you like, you can even cook it in a little coconut oil to benefit from its health properties!