Most people would agree that our brains (and our souls) form the very essence of who we are. With brain function naturally declining with age and the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease increasing, any steps that can be taken to protect the brain from the ravages of aging are important. One of the best ways to protect brain function is to provide this important organ with the nutrients it needs to protect itself against free radical damage. Need some guidance? Here are four of the best foods for healthy brain function.
Best foods for the brain: Blueberries
Blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that appear to protect the brain against oxidative damage. A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience showed that mice with a genetic predisposition towards Alzheimer’s disease experienced less loss of brain function when fed a diet supplemented with blueberry extract than did mice given regular food. The researchers observed that the mice given blueberry extract had higher levels of enzymes known as kinases which appear to play an important role in brain function and memory. If you don’t like the taste of blueberries, there are companies that sell freeze dried blueberries ground into a powder form that can be added to cereals and smoothies.
Best foods for the brain: Walnuts
Walnuts are a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids which help to reduce free radical formation and reduce inflammation which can have harmful effects on brain function. Walnut extract is even being investigated as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Besides potentially improving brain function, walnuts have other beneficial health properties including reducing the risk of heart disease. How much do you need to get these benefits? Most experts recommend around an ounce each day.
Best foods for the brain: Chocolate
Not only has chocolate been shown to improve the mood of people suffering from depression, it also helps to improve brain function in the short term. In one study, subjects who consumed dark chocolate scored better on tests of cognitive performance than those who avoided the dark stuff. Although it’s unclear what component of dark chocolate increases brain function, researchers believe it’s the flavonoids.
Best foods for the brain: Red wine
Although if you drink too much of it your brain may not function well in the short term, when consumed in lower quantities red wine is a brain friendly food. The active ingredient appears to be a compound known as resveratrol found in red grape skins. One study showed that mice given red wine extract developed forty percent less brain damage from stroke than mice who didn’t receive this supplement. How much do you need? Most experts believe two glasses a day is sufficient to get the benefits.
Adding these brain friendly foods to your diet may be a simple and safe way to boost your brain function. How can you go wrong with these healthy foods?