02 Aug The Best Nutrients To Feed Your Brain
By Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN
This post was sponsored by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED). All thoughts are my own.
With my 3 kids heading back to school, I want to make sure to stock my pantry with foods that provide nutrients to feed their brains. It’s not just my kids’ brains, however, that need a little boost. With so much going on between work and family, I am so busy that I tend to forget things myself. Luckily, many of these brain-boosting foods are easy to find, prepare, and incorporate into healthy meals and snacks. The next time you head to the market, remember to fill your cart with brain-boosting foods.
DHA makes up a significant percentage of fat in the brain and is important for brain development. Babies need DHA for cognitive development, and this is especially important in the second half of pregnancy and through infancy. Pregnant moms pass DHA to their growing babies through the placenta, and in breast milk after birth. For adults, research shows that DHA, alone or combined with EPA, contributes to improved memory function in older adults.
To get omega-3 fats: Include fatty fish like salmon and tuna in your diet or take a supplement.
Studies have found that this nutrient is especially important during pregnancy for both mom and baby because it helps support healthy brain growth and helps protect against neural tube defects.
To get choline: Include eggs, milk, liver, legumes, nuts, seeds and wheat germ into your healthy eating plan.
This phytonutrient (plant chemical) has been studied in both animal and humans. Studies in both healthy and cognitively challenged adults (like those with Alzheimer’s disease) were found to have memory and cognitive benefits after consuming it.
To get curcumin: Sprinkle turmeric into dishes like sautéed chickpeas or cauliflower or add to a carrot-cinnamon smoothie
A Tufts University study found that anthocyanins can help protect the brain cells from oxidation and help boost communication between brain neurons. Other studies with anthocyanin-rich foods like blueberries have found improved short-term memory.
To get anthocyanins: Include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, red grapes, cranberries, 100% grape juice, and red currants in your healthy eating plan
Studies have found that foods eating foods containing vitamin K can help slow cognitive decline. A 2015 study from Rush University Medical Center found that folks who ate 1 to 2 servings of vitamin K containing foods daily had the cognitive ability of a person who was 11 years younger compared to those who didn’t consume any.
To get vitamin K: Include leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens in your healthy eating plan