brain food

PSA: Eating Dark Chocolate Will Make You Smarter And Happier

...and a few other foods that give the ol' brain a boost.

We all know how important it is to eat well for our physical health, but our mental wellbeing can also benefit from a great diet. Just like any other organ or muscle in the body, the brain needs a great nutritional diet to keep it in tip-top condition. So, what foods can help us keep a happy, healthy brain?

1. Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, which help to reduce memory loss and blood pressure, and to enhance mood. Dark chocolate can also help with inflammation, making it a good snack choice for anyone suffering from a concussion. The catch? The dark chocolate should contain 85% and above cocoa (although any dark chocolate is better than none); unfortunately, milk chocolate does not have the same benefits.

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2. Wholegrains with a low glycemic index are a great way to keep our brain energized throughout the day. Opting for brown cereals, rice, pasta and granary bread (as opposed to the “white” kind) enables glucose to slowly release into the bloodstream throughout the day, keeping your brain alert and able to concentrate and focus.

3. Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout take care of the heart and joints as well as the brain. (Since our bodies cannot produce essential fatty acids on their own, we need to source them from our diets.) Great plant alternatives include flaxseeds, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, soya beans and walnuts. All of these fats, whether obtained from plant sources, oily fish or omega 3 supplements, help make serotonin, the brain’s stress-busting, happiness-inducing chemical, and who wouldn’t want more of that?

4. Ever walk into a room to get something and then completely forget what it was you went looking for? (Us, too.) Incorporating blueberries into our diet may improve memory loss, according to a study conducted by Tufts University. Blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, a protective compound that gives pigment to many dark red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables; they also help improve our learning capacity and motor skills.

5. Foods rich in B vitamins such as eggs, fish, chicken and leafy greens are great for helping to reduce the risk of a stroke. Elevated levels of the homocysteine compound in the blood are associated with risks of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, and a recent study indicates that introducing homocysteine-lowering B-vitamin foods slows the accelerated rate of brain atrophy.

6. Tomatoes are another power-packed, antioxidant-laden fruit or vegetable (you decide). They contain lycopene, which helps to protect cells from free radical damage that can occur in the development of dementia. To get the optimal benefits here, cook the tomatoes before eating; adding olive oil helps to optimize their absorption.

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