5 Top Diet Tips for a Healthy Brain
We are used to keeping an eye on our weight and what we eat but the thought that our diet might affect brain function and health probably never occurs.
The organ we usually associate with our diet is the heart, but the brain also needs its brain food – and scientists have found that oily fish, fruit and veg and even minced beef can boost brain power and keep those brain cells fighting fit.
Follow our 5 Top TIps for brain health and create a diet fit for a genius!
1. Oily Fish like haddock, kippers, tuna and salmon has been found to boost brain power and improve concentration as a result of Omega 3 oils. Schoolchildren diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) showed improved concentration and less hyperactivity after oily fish was included in their diet – aim for two to three portions a week.
2. Wholegrains, nuts and seeds are a perfect combination as brain food – wholegrains promote heart health and maintain blood flow; while nuts and seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E, which helps maintain brain function as we age. Eaten raw or cooked, it doesn’t matter – anyone for a wholegrain peanut butter sandwich? (But avoid hydrogenated peanut butter.) Otherwise tuck into almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, flaxseed, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds or walnuts. Brazil nuts contain compounds called flavonoids and can also protect against male cancers. Walnuts lower cholesterol and can boost artery and heart health, but watch the calories, as nuts are full of oils.
3. Fruit and berries like blueberries are superfoods, which mean they have antioxidant powers and are chock full of vitamins – essential for cell renewal and to protect the immune system. Choose a mix of berries and brightly-coloured fruits like mangoes, satsumas, pomegranate or melon to max out vitamin content. Avocadoes are also brilliant for helping reduce blood pressure by improving arterial blood flow – and high blood pressure is a killer and can cause headaches, strokes and heart disease. Start popping berries today and wash down with a plate of melon and mango.
4. Red wine – here is the good news: red wine in moderation (a glass a day) can boost arterial health, which means the blood supply to the brain works efficiently – oxygen flow to the brain is important to prevent those feelings of sluggishness and promote cell renewal. Red or black grape skins contain resveratrol, an antioxidant which fights against clogged arteries and also promotes healthy cell renewal. You can snack on red or black grapes if you are non-drinker – and the bonus is that some researchers think resveratrol in grapes could hold the secret to eternal youth, as when grapes are exposed to UV light, resveratrol produces age-inhibiting proteins called sirtuines, also known as the longevity gene. Result.
5. Green tea is another brew with antioxidant properties, which can beat the free radicals which cause cellular damage. When cells are damaged by pollutants in the environment or chemicals released by frying or barbecuing meat, changes in the DNA of a cell can result in cancers developing. Antioxidants fight free radicals and dieticians recommend 2-4 cups of green tea daily.
Other foods which can help boost brain power include energy-giving beans – which maintain sugar levels in the body – and even the usual daily cuppa (full of antioxidants), making beans on wholegrain toast and a cup of tea the perfect brain food for kids and adults.
Add a glass of pomegranate juice to boost vitamin intake and get a slug of antioxidants – and follow up with a few squares of 70% dark chocolate as a treat for you – and your brain and heart.