Six Foods that Can Make You Smarter
and Support the Health and Good Functioning of Your BrainBy Heidi A, for Erbilia Online Magzine February 07, 2015 — Updated 17:30 GMT+2
It may sound strange, but our brain consumes up to 20% of the energy our body receives – a percentage rather disproportionate to its small size. The main energy source that the brain needs is glucose which is stored in the form of glycogen.
The following foods are natural and healthy sources of glucose and other vital compounds that can improve your memory, boost your learning skills, fight depression and mental diseases, and enhance your mood.
- Foods containing flavonoids – These are antioxidant compounds that can protect your brain against damage from free radicals, prevent memory decline, mood swings, and depression. Good sources of flavonoids are: dark-colored fruits (such as grapes, berries, cherries, and pomegranates), green tea, coffee and dark chocolate. A cup of hot chocolate made from cocoa powder and a couple of teaspoonfuls of brown sugar can give your brain the boost it needs every morning. Dark chocolate is also good for students before sitting for exams and for everyone whose daily tasks demand a strong memory and a fully functional brain. Moreover, dark chocolate increases serotonin levels in the brain and makes you feel happy and less anxious.
- Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in several oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, and lake trout. Omega-3 can also be found in eggs, especially the ones that come from free-range hens. Having a meal with omega-3-rich fish once or twice a week and adding a couple of eggs to your diet every week will provide your brain not only with the valuable omega-3 fatty acids, but also with vitamin E, which is known to fight depression and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Eggs also contain choline, a vitamin that belongs to the B complex and contributes to the health of the brain’s neurotransmitters. Studies have shown that children whose diet contained enough omega-3 fatty acids did much better at school, had a better memory and learned faster than their peers who did not receive enough omega-3.
- Nuts and seeds – Boost your cognitive function with a handful of nuts which are rich in protein, beneficial fats, vitamin E, and fibers. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews are considered to be the best choices. Seeds are equally beneficial as they provide the brain with essential minerals like magnesium, vitamin E, antioxidants, and proteins. Add sesame seeds or tahini to your salads instead of mayonnaise and add sunflower and pumpkin seeds to your yoghurt desert. Pumpkin seeds are known to increase serotonin levels and improve your mood and the health of your brain.
- Foods rich in Vitamin D – Studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood run a higher risk of cognitive impairment and depression, while those with adequate levels of vitamin D had a better performance on memory tests, tests with numbers, and tests that had to do with decision making. Frequent exposure to sunlight can provide us with adequate vitamin D and a healthy functioning of our brain. However, if exposure to sunlight is not possible, fatty fish, lard, butter and fortified milk or fortified cereal can provide our brain with the necessary vitamin D.
- Cruciferous Vegetables – Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, arugula, radish, and a few others can boost our immune system, fight free radicals and provide our body with a large number of vitamins and minerals. Especially cauliflower is a rich source of choline (the B complex vitamin that is also contained in eggs) which increases cognitive function and improves memory. Cauliflower is an ideal food for school children who want to improve their learning abilities in the most natural way.
- Honey – This is a magic food that is a category of its own. Apart from the numerous benefits it has for the health of the whole of our body, it is the ideal food for the brain. As it is full of antioxidants, it prevents the damage of the brain cells and Alzheimer’s disease. If taken diluted in half a glass of water, the natural sugar it contains reaches the brain in just seven minutes to provide it with the necessary “food” to make it function more effectively and increase concentration. That is why parents should add honey to their children’s breakfast for better performance at school.