When it comes to brain health and function, the old adage “You are what you eat” definitely applies.
Healthy Fats Your brain is the fattest organ in your body, consisting of at least 60% fat. An integral part of promoting a healthy brain is getting plenty of good fats. A recent study demonstrated when you don’t get enough of these good fats in your diet, the fatty acids in your brain get out of balance and can cause hyperactivity, depression and cognitive decline. The three categories to focus on are Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFA’s), Monounsaturated Fats (MUFA’s) and Saturated Fats.
PUFA’s include Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s). Omega 3’s are abundant in fish, grass-fed beef, and certain nuts and seeds including walnuts and flaxseeds. Increased intake of Omega 3’s has been shown to improve brain function.
MUFA’s are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Saturated fats have been vilified over the last 50 years as a major contributor to clogged arteries and other chronic diseases. Recent research has definitively proven this is not the case and that a certain amount of saturated fat in our diets is necessary for achieving optimal health including healthy brain function. In fact, a recent study revealed that people who ate more saturated fat decreased their risk of dementia by 36 percent. Saturated fats are found in beef, lamb, butter, cream, and coconut oil.
Raw Nuts and Seeds These make a great snack and also help to keep you feeling satiated, in turn reducing the cravings for carbohydrate-laden snacks. You get many healthy fats to help support optimal brain function along with a variety of minerals and antioxidants.
Eggs Free-range eggs are filled with healthy saturated fats and choline which have been proven to help with boosting memory skills and brain function.
Salmon and Sardines These fish are some of the richest sources of brain-building Omega 3 EFA’s. Make sure you opt for wild-caught instead of farm-raised sources. If you or your child are not into the fish scene, add a high-quality Omega 3 Fish Oil supplement into your daily routine.
Grass-fed Beef Grass-fed beef has a higher ratio of Omega 3 EFA’s compared to conventionally raised corn-fed/grain-fed beef. Beef is also an excellent source of Vitamin B12 and Iron which have been proven to improve brain function.
Avocados The MUFA’s found in avocados have not only been shown to help with brain function, but also help promote a healthy blood flow to the brain.
Beans Beans, beans, the musical fruit. And guess what? They are also great for promoting brain health. Lentils are rich in folate (a B Vitamin), which helps the function of dopamine in your brain, in turn improving performance and mood. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are an abundant source of magnesium, which helps speed up communication in the brain.
Berries Blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, blackberries are rich in antioxidants and have been shown to improve learning, cognition and memory as well as protect your brain from neurodegenerative oxidation.
Fresh Beets Whether you like them baked, roasted juiced or pickled, beets have a positive impact on improving blood flow to the brain.
Oats Oatmeal helps to provide a steady flow of glucose to fuel the brain and may help to keep your hunger satisfied.
Bonus: Kefir and other Fermented Foods Recent research has shed a great amount of light on the connection of your brain health and your gut microflora. Regularly eating fermented foods such as kefir is an excellent way to keep your body’s probiotics in balance. Having a well balance gut microflora can contribute to healthy mental and emotional function.
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