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Last Updated on December 10, 2021
We usually view food within the lens of how tasty it is, and how it benefits our overall health. We know there are certain foods we should stay away from – like foods high in bad fats and sugars. However, did you know there are some foods that are really beneficial for your mental health? Specifically, foods that can improve brain function and cognitive performance.
It’s true, and you can enjoy higher levels of concentration if you start adding these foods to your diet. So, here are the top five foods you can begin ingesting to help your brain get healthier and improve your focus:
While technically not a food that you’ll eat raw, turmeric is still something that is good for healthy brain function. Most of us will ingest it in ground spice form, and it is a key ingredient in many curries and dahls. Having said that, there has also been a growing trend of turmeric lattes popping up in artisan coffee shops, and you can probably buy kits to make them at home.
Either way, turmeric includes something called curcumin, which can directly enter your brain and provide all sorts of wonderful benefits. This includes boosting your memory, helping to improve your mood and reduce feelings of depression, and even helping new brain cells grow – which could protect you against cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.
All in all, it’s a very powerful food substance to improve brain function and mental wellbeing.
The humble blueberry might be small, but it has a big impact on your brain. These tiny fruits are packed full of key antioxidants that directly improve your concentration and memory. Scientists have discovered that these antioxidants will help stimulate more blood flow to your brain. As a result, more blood means more oxygen, which improves brain health and keeps your mind focused and fresh.
Honestly, there are so many antioxidants in blueberries that they help brain functionality in so many other ways as well. There are some anti-inflammatory ones that can reduce inflammation in the brain, preventing neurological diseases from forming.
The best thing about blueberries is that they are so easy to eat – and there are no downsides to consuming a lot of them. Adding some to your breakfast in the morning can help you start the day with a sharper mind. Snacking on a few during the day further improves brain function and ensures you get closer to achieving your five-a-day.
For generations, people all over the world have woken up with a cup of coffee in their hands. It’s seen as the ultimate beverage to wake you up, and it also helps to improve your brain function by making you more focused. Naturally, the main reason behind this is that coffee contains a lot of caffeine, which is a naturally occurring component in coffee beans. We tend to think of caffeine as being responsible for us staying up late at night, but it has other benefits for our brains as well.
Caffeine in coffee can make you more alert and sharpen your concentration. This means you are more likely to feel focused on your tasks, rather than drowsy and distracted. Some studies have also shown that caffeine boosts dopamine production, which is one of the main hormones responsible for helping you feel good.
There is, however, one concern when it comes to coffee. Technically speaking, caffeine is a drug. Consequently, you can become addicted to it. Too much caffeine is unlikely to land you in a rehab center, but it can lead to some adverse side effects. This might include headaches and the shakes when you stop drinking it for a couple of days. For this reason, the best way to enjoy the benefits of coffee without the side effects is by sticking to a cup or two per day, no more.
Yes, you can enjoy dark chocolate and see some brain benefits while you’re at it! Again, caffeine is at play here to help you get that jolt of focus you’re always looking for. There is less caffeine in dark chocolate than there is in coffee, but it’s still a decent amount to help you zone in during the day – meaning it’s a good little snack to have while you’re working.
Alongside caffeine, dark chocolate also contains flavonoids. These are antioxidants that have been linked to improving your brain function. Mainly, they aid with things like memory and your ability to learn. Getting lots of flavonoids in your system can slow down mental decline and ensure your memory stays excellent for as long as possible.
Of course, dark chocolate also impacts the mood signals in your brain. We all love the feeling of biting into some chocolate with a cup of coffee and tea, and it genuinely is scientifically proven to improve your mood by boosting dopamine production yet again!
Ah yes, everyone knows that fatty fish are responsible for a healthier brain. Ever since we were kids, we grew up with parents telling us that fish was brain food. This is largely thanks to the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fatty fish. Omega-3 is strongly linked to cognitive function as it can improve your mental performance and help you remember things more clearly.
Some studies have shown a direct link between people that consume lots of fatty fish and enhanced concentration levels. So, it’s a good food to add to your weekly meal plan if you want something that’s not just good for your brain, but nutritionally beneficial as well. The majority of fish and seafood contains a lot of protein, which is also great for your body. Fish like salmon and cod are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, so they can give you the most benefits. Thankfully, you can cook them in a variety of ways to get lovely meals out of them.
None of these foods are particularly exotic or hard for you to source, nor are they difficult to add to a weekly diet. Start adding them to your daily meals, and you will slowly see improvements in your brain health and functionality. Gone are the days where you’d suffer from constant brain fog and a lack of concentration!