Eating well is good for your mental health as well as your physical health. But which foods are particularly important to keep your gray matter happy and healthy? Here are few suggestions.
1. Avocado: one of my all-time favorites, packed with monounsaturated fats or the ‘’good’’ fats, important for our brain cells structure but also for hormone production and blood sugar control. Avocado also contains vitamin K and folic acid which help preventing blood clots in the brain and strokes. They are also rich in Vitamins B and C, proteins and low in sugar. Their creamy texture makes them easy to use in smoothies or baking.
2. Root vegetables and beets are high in antioxidants; help boost brain blood flow and help with mental performance. Broccoli, no need to explain why here!
3. Blueberries! so called nature’s candy …one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods but they also provide vitamin C, K and lots of fiber. Research showed their levels of gallic acid, a strong antioxidant, are especially good at protecting our brains from stress and all sorts of degenerative disease. You can use them in both savory and sweet dishes!
4. Bone broth: obviously, my grandmother was right about this one too! Great for healing your gut which in turn will have a great impact on your brain since latest studies showed a clear connection between these 2 systems. The homemade version is the best but there are great store bought options as well, beef or chicken.
5. Coconut oil contains fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties especially medium chain triglycerides which can be used by our bodies as a quick source of energy for the brain. Try to use unrefined, organic coconut oil as much as possible. Add it to your smoothie or use it for baking or roasting meat or vegetables.
6. Dark chocolate: full of flavonols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, lower blood pressure and improve brain and heart blood flow. Look for one with at least 70 percent of cocoa and enjoy in moderation.
7. Egg yolks: finally, back on the good list and for good reason, they contain large amounts of choline which is used by our brain to manufacture acetylcholine a neurotransmitter required for proper brain function.
8. Extra virgin olive oil: improves learning and memory but also can reverse the age-and disease related brain changes, fights again some toxic compounds that are toxic to the brain. Avoid cooking with it at high temperatures. Store all your oils in dark, cool places.
9. Salmon: packed with omega 3 acids to help keep your brain running smoothly and improve memory. Look for wild caught fish, preferably from local sources.
10. Walnuts: rich in vitamin E, great in antioxidants. Also, flaxseed or flaxseed oil and chia seeds are a great addition to the morning smoothies and a great source of amino acids and fatty acids so important for the whole body.
With a mix of yummy condiments like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon there is something to please everyone!
To your health,
Dana Neacsu, MD