Eat your way to improved memory and concentration

“You are what you eat,” the old saying goes. That may not be technically true, but your diet definitely affects your body—and your brain. Certain foods are high on the brain-friendly scale, triggering positive effects like improving thought clarity, enhancing memory, and boosting brain power.

How Wholegrain Foods Can Help
Not only are wholegrain products a better nutritional choice than their starchier alternatives, they also help improve your recollection. Foods like wholegrain cereal, wheat bran, wheat germ, and whole-wheat pasta contain hefty amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid—all nutrients that nurture your gray matter. Studies have shown that women who take these vitamins and minerals in supplemental form have an easier time recalling information.

The Power of Proteins
Some protein-rich foods provide both short- and long-term benefits for the brain. If you’ve ever browsed a shelf of health supplements, chances are you’ve seen big bottles of something called omega-3 among them. This essential fatty acid is critical to nervous system health. Without enough omega-3, you could be at a higher risk of developing memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease.

Omega-3 occurs naturally in oily fish like sardines, anchovies, herrings, mackeral, trout, and salmon, all of which are readily available in any grocery store. Not fond of the taste of fish? You can get the same benefits by taking omega-3 supplements or nutritional oils such as fish oil, walnut oil, and flaxseed.

For short-term brain benefits, consider including protein in your breakfast. An early dose can help your mind function with greater clarity throughout the day. A few easy protein-rich breakfast foods are eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, and wholegrain cereal.  You can also add a dose of protein powder to milk, or hot cereal like oatmeal or grits.

Brain-friendly Fruits and Veggies
You’ve always known that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but did you know they can make you smarter? Nearly every type of food in this category contains decent amounts of antioxidants, which not only boost overall health, but can also help prevent free radical damage to your brain—a condition that leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

While they’re all a healthy choice, certain fruits and vegetables act as superfoods for your brain. These include:

Blueberries. In addition to being the second most antioxidant-rich berry, blueberries can serve to strengthen short-term memory.

Tomatoes. This is another food flush with antioxidants, particularly lycopene, which is one of the most powerful. There is strong evidence to suggest that tomatoes reduce the risk of dementia.

Blackcurrant. These tasty British berries top the list in antioxidant levels and also contain high amounts of vitamin C, a nutrient that increases mental agility.

Broccoli. Whether it’s fresh, frozen, or steamed, broccoli is one of the few foods that represents an excellent source of vitamin K, which is proven to improve perception, memory, and other cognitive thought processes.

Eat Like a Squirrel
Many nuts and seeds can provide brain enhancements, while serving as a healthy source of protein in your diet. Nuts are packed with vitamin E, which has been shown to boost memory. Additionally, most types of nuts and seeds function as mood stabilizers and help protect against dementia.

With the wide variety of nuts out there, you’ll be sure to find a few you enjoy. In addition to the standard peanut (which is a legume, but still high in protein and vitamin E), consider cashews, macadamia nuts, almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, and even coconut, which has the added benefit of being rich in healthy fatty acid.

Pumpkin seeds are a standout in the seed category. One serving contains the full recommended daily amount (RDA) of zinc, which improves thinking skills and enhances memory.

Which of these brain-boosting foods have you tried? Have you noticed an increase in brain power by including them in your diet?