Most of us choose our food based on taste, convenience, or calorie intake; it is doubtful that we’ve considered the impact the food we consume can have on our brain.
Forgetfulness or memory loss is becoming common across people of all age groups and our diet is one of the major causes. WHO’s World Alzheimer Report 2018 revealed that the number of dementia cases across the globe is on the rise. It said 50 million people worldwide have dementia. At the rate at which brain health is being threatened by lifestyle and environmental factors today, it is important we work towards helping our grey cells receive better nutrition.
It turns out certain foods have the power to improve our mental health more than others; and improve focus and memory. So, to ensure a longer, productive brain, it is only logical to carefully pick what we eat.
Here’s a list of nutrient-dense memory foods to begin with:
Delhi-based nutritionist Kavita Devgan says, “Eggs contain several nutrients that are tied to brain health. Egg yolks are an excellent source of choline, a micronutrient that helps facilitate mental clarity, memory, and logical reasoning.” Furthermore, eggs are rich in vitamin D, B6 and B12, and folate, which are associated with the smooth functioning of the brain, its development, and regulating mood.
A 2015 study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed that walnuts may not only help improve memory and concentration but also speed up the pace at which our brain processes information.
Devgan says, “They are not just loaded with antioxidants, but also plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for brain health. Plus, vitamin E in these nuts help lessen cognitive decline as you age. Hence, it is safe to say, walnuts are the ultimate brain food.”
This yellow-hued tuber is an essential part of the Indian kitchen and is known to pack a healthy punch not just for the body, but also for the skin and brain. “Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds that help spice up our brain, keep memory sharp and Alzheimer’s away. Its most active compound is curcumin, which boosts brain proliferation and helps it heal itself,” says Devgan.
Another spice that works wonders for brain activity is the sweet and woody cinnamon. Rich in antioxidants, cinnamon is known for its antiviral and antiseptic properties. A study conducted at the Rush University in Chicago, US, revealed that not just consuming by eating, but smelling cinnamon can significantly improve the performance of the brain.
Another research conducted at the University of California suggests this spice is effective in delaying the onset of or mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. It says that the secret lies in cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin, two compounds that are found in cinnamon’s essential oil. Of the two, cinnamaldehyde helps the brain process information better and makes the organ sharper and efficient.
What makes blueberries one of the best memory-boosting foods are their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, which come from flavonoids. These compounds can enhance circulation and protect brain cells from damage, reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Apart from flavonoids, these berries also contain higher levels of gallic acid, which acts as an antioxidant for the brain. Blueberries make for a nutritious and satisfying snack. If not in the mood to eat them raw, you can use them to whip up delicious snack bars, milkshakes, or desserts.
According to the 2010 research, conducted at the Translational Science Center (Wake Forest University, US), beetroot juice can improve the functioning of areas associated with dementia and poor cognition in adults.
Drink a glass of beet juice before exercising since the nitrates ensure more oxygen-rich blood reaches our think tank. Such high levels of nitrates can also be found in cabbage and other leafy vegetables such as spinach.