There are many things you can do to keep your brain active: going outside more, listening to classical music, or learning a new skill. As you get older, it’s imperative to take care of your mental and physical health. Both are important to living a long, stress-free life. But don’t think just because you focus too much on one aspect of your health that you miss out on the other. There are foods that keep both your waistline and mind happy.
The fact that eating healthy has an abundance of benefits isn’t exactly new information, but it doesn’t hurt to learn new ways to boost your well-being—and more specifically, your brain. While not always in extremes, memory loss has a way of sneaking up on you as you grow older.
There are more and more studies being done that prove adding certain foods to your daily routine can help aid in keeping memory loss at bay. A healthier diet with the right foods doesn’t just come with physical benefits, but a sharper brain with an improved memory system.
Coffee drinkers listen up, caffeine is shown to decrease concentration, not improve it. One cup a day isn’t harmful, but any more than that may make you more prone to headaches and a bad case of the jitters. Switching to green tea for that afternoon pick-me-up gives you a more moderate dose of caffeine and keeps your focus razor sharp. Say goodbye to caffeine overload headaches and hello to a more alert you!
Holy guacamole—avocados just got a lot more exciting! Rich in nutrients like vitamin E and fatty acids, avocados are not to be overlooked when placing your order at Chipotle or perusing the grocery store vegetable aisle. They can sharpen both your concentration and your memory, making for a successful workday or school day. Continue to add this fruit (yes, fruit) to your salad or toast and you might find yourself waking up with more energy and an improved memory.
Everyone’s favorite green vegetable, broccoli, is having its turn in the spotlight. With an abundance of vitamin K, broccoli is known to strengthen your brain’s cognitive functions. Another added bonus to adding more broccoli to your diet is the plentitude of choline— an important nutrient that assists in the development of your nervous system. It’s safe to say that broccoli has officially replaced mac and cheese as your go-to side dish for dinner.
A staple for breakfast and dessert, berries are a great way to add a dose of healthy to an otherwise unhealthy meal. Or skip the cheesecake and pancakes altogether, and make the switch to a solo bowl of berries. You may want to consider making a handful of these a regular part of your food consumption, especially blueberries, which might be crowned as the ruler of this particular category of fruit. Blueberries are shown to combat stress and help decrease inflammation over time. A handful of berries a day might replace the apple in keeping the doctor away.
Turmeric started gaining popularity on the health food scene last year with lattes, chicken dishes, dressings, and smoothies galore. But this is a fad that’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and there may be a reason people are adding this spice to just about anything edible. The benefits of turmeric are many, starting and ending with the benefits (diff word) to your brain. Sprinkling this South Asian spice to your sweet or savory dish may help keep Alzheimer’s at arm’s length. Of course, the pure root is always the healthiest way to go to consume turmeric, but if that’s too much, switching out your morning caramel macchiato for a golden latte does the trick.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
There may be a reason the Greek poet Homer called olive oil “liquid gold.” The key component to the ever-popular Mediterranean diet might also be aiding in the fight against dementia. Extra virgin olive oil (or EVOO for you Rachael Ray fans) differs from other oils because of the purity of the oil. While other cooking oils go through several processing steps, extra virgin is oil in its purest form, making this cooking essential worth the price tag. When the oil is consumed without harmful additives, the result is a food rich in vitamins E, K, and others that can help speed up brain processes. A study printed in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology found that there is a better chance to keeping your memory intact with a daily addition of extra virgin olive oil to your diet.
The typical milk or white chocolate bar has more processed and refined sugars than most indulgent desserts. It’s best to make the switch to dark chocolate altogether for that late night guilty pleasure. Dark chocolate is better than other types due to the high level of flavanols, a compound that helps improve inflammatory issues within the brain, within one bar. These could especially help after a traumatic experience, such as a concussion. After converting to pure dark chocolate, you won’t even miss those other sugary treats.
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