Think fast. Name 10 foods that will boost your brain and make you smarter. When it comes to memory, focus, stress and cognition, the foods we eat have a tremendous impact on brain function. Here are 10 foods that will help keep you on your toes, ready to handle anything!
Not only are walnuts full of antioxidants, copper and magnesium, they're also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating a diet that's inclusive of a serving of walnuts a day not only reduces inflammation in the central nervous system, but reverses cognitive deficits.
TIP: The next time you have oatmeal or yogurt, go nuts with walnuts by adding a small handful for added health benefits.
The blueberry's claim to fame in the brain power department is due to an abundance of anthocyanidins, compounds that have shown to be beneficial in protecting against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. You don't have to wait until your senior years to get the benefit of blueberries. Cognition and reasoning have been shown to improve in people of all ages, thanks to the blueberry.
TIP: You don't have to be bashful when eating blueberries. One cup is a mere 85 calories. Enjoy.
Yet another great source of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon fires up your brain by making the synapses stronger, allowing communication between cells to be faster. Need to work on your listening skills? The nutrients in salmon have been shown to improve focus and retention, too!
TIP: The next time you make salmon for dinner, consider buying wild Alaskan, one of the cleanest, toxin-free varieties of this fish.
While too much coffee might give you the jitters, it looks like a good cup of Joe a day is just what your brain needs to help improve short term memory. In the elderly, research has shown coffee improves long term memory, too.
TIP: One cup of coffee contains about 76mg of caffeine, just the amount our brain needs to improve function. Too much can leave you anxious and distracted. Go easy.
5) Flax Seeds
If you've got the blues, or are predisposed to depression, take a teaspoon of flax seed oil every day. Research has shown that the oil from this omega-3 rich seed helps with mood, but also focus and memory.
TIP: Your body can benefit from ground flax seeds, too! Just make sure you grind them fresh rather than buying them pre-ground. Freshly ground seeds are a more potent source of omega-3s.
A sprig of mint might help with bloating and digestion, but when it comes to how it affects your brain, a cup of peppermint tea has been shown boost memory and focus.
TIP: Make a big kettle of peppermint tea, then refrigerate it. Grab a cold cup of iced peppermint tea over the warm summer months for a caffeine-free boost.
7) Green Tea
Green tea contains an amazing amino acid called L-theanine that has been shown to have a calming effect, especially when anxiety is high. Green tea also has the benefit of caffeine, just not as much. So if you're sensitive to coffee, but what the added memory-boosting effects of caffeine, have a cup of green tea instead.
TIP: Always buy organic green tea. Conventionally-produced green teas tend to be much higher in fluoride, which can have a damaging effect on the brain.
8) Coconut Oil
A hotbed of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), coconut oil has been shown to have an immediate effect on the brain, boosting memory in those who have Alzheimer's disease. In a healthy brain, MCTs are an amazing source of fuel for the brain to use to help keep cognition high. Don't worry about this fat getting stored as fat. The MCTs in coconut oil have actually been shown to reduce belly fat.
TIP: Add a little coconut oil to scrambled eggs in the morning or air-popped popcorn as an evening snack.
Whole eggs, including the yolk, contain a form of omega-3 fatty acids called DHA. Our brain is composed of about 40% DHA. Ample amounts of this particular fatty acid have been shown to improve mood and cognitive function - especially in young children. Eating a few eggs a week will do your brain some good!
TIP: Don't have time to make eggs in the morning? Hard boil and peel a few at the beginning of the week. Eat as an easy grab-n-go snack.
10) Holy Basil
The next time you feel stressed, have a cup of holy basil tea. Holy basil is an Ayurvedic herb grown throughout southern Asia, but easily cultivated for home use anywhere.Holy basil has been increases blood flow to the brain, improving both mood and memory. This herb has also been shown to have a positive effect on stress.
TIP: Most grocery stores carry Holy basil tea, also called Tulsi, in tea form.
Traci D Mitchell is a nationally-recognized Chicago-based nutrition coach and personal trainer featured on the TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. As the trainer for Steve Harvey's Bridal Bootcamp, Traci keeps herself busy by challenging others to be the healthiest they can be. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and private coaching. Interested in working with Traci? Get info here. To keep up-to-date, subscribe to her newsletter.