August is a back-to-school month, an exciting and busy time for both parents and kids. In times like this when life throws a lot on your plate, it’s especially important we remember to eat “well” to function at our best both physically and mentally.
While there is no magic pill that fulfills all our nutrition needs, there are foods that are particularly great for boosting your mental performance, brainpower, and memory. Why not try incorporating these 5 foods proven to help with brainpower and memory to your meals or snack time?
Known better to us as a key ingredient in curry powder, turmeric has a number of health benefits for the brain, as a study by the University of Southern California1 reveals. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds help improve memory, ease depression, and grow new brain cells. You can buy turmeric in powder form at your local organic or health grocery stores (like us!). Enjoy in curry, turmeric tea, or mixed into your next potato dish or stir fry.
Research by Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences2 talks about the elements found in pumpkin seed that bring benefits related to brain health. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper, which are all important for brain health. Zinc and copper help control nerve signaling, and magnesium is linked to learning and memory. Deficiency in these elements leads to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, migraines, and epilepsy, among others. There are many ways to enjoy pumpkin seeds, starting with simply snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds. Or try making a granola bar or other baked goods, sprinkling over your yogurt or salad, or adding them to your soup today!
According to a study published by US National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine3, blueberries and other deeply colored berries like blackberries, mulberries, strawberries, bilberries, and blackcurrants have neuroprotective effects on neurodegenerative diseases. Berries contain antioxidants compounds known to improve memory and act against oxidative stress and inflammation, which are conditions that may contribute to brain aging and other diseases related to the nervous system.
Fatty fish refers to types of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, trout, sardines, cod, tuna, and pollack. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health4, Omega-3 fatty acid is healthy unsaturated fat that is essential for decision making, learning, and memory. It also lowers blood levels of beta-amyloid, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If you are not a big fan of fish or simply choose not to eat it, Omega-3 requirements can be filled with Omega-3 supplements, flaxseeds, avocados, and walnuts.
Consumption of dark chocolate improves visual and cognitive functions according to a study by Reading University’s Centre for Integrative Neuroscience & Neurodynamics5. Isn’t that great news? Dark chocolate includes flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants that are good for brainpower. Flavonoids in chocolate enhance learning and memory and help slow down age-related mental decline. If you want to take dark chocolate every day for health benefits, be sure to try and limit your intake to only one piece a day. If you can find dark chocolate with higher cacao content and less sugar, that’s even better.
These are just a few foods to consider when you’re thinking about dinner ideas or packing lunch for yourself and/or the kids before sending them off to school. Throw in some foods shown to help with brain function to make getting through the day easier for everyone!