3 Food Groups That Keep Your Brain Sharp

Your mind is like any other muscle in your body – it needs the right nourishment to function properly.

This is important for both immediate tasks, like focusing during a work meeting, and long-term cognitive health, such as reducing your risk for neurodegenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.

Your diet can impact your brain health in various ways, from improving blood flow and reducing inflammation to providing the building blocks for new brain cells.

If you want to protect your cognitive health and keep your mind sharp, try these three brain-boosting food groups to incorporate into your daily diet.

Salmon and Fatty Fish

Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids make up approximately 20% of the brain’s dry weight and are essential for proper brain function.

They play an important role in brain development and protect against cognitive decline and dementia.

Increased intake of marine omega-3s is also associated with better outcomes relating to mood and behavior disorders such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Suicidal ideation

Eating salmon once or twice a week is a great way to get this essential brain nutrient into your diet.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are packed with polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and other important plant proteins.

People who eat a high amount of nuts throughout their lifetime appear to have modestly better cognitive performance in older age and a lower risk for dementia.

Nuts also show numerous vascular benefits, helping with:

  • reduced inflammation
  • decreased insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
  • improved endothelial function
  • reduced risk for heart attacks, coronary heart disease, and stroke

These effects can then contribute to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk for dementia.

Including a small handful of nuts or seeds in your daily diet is an easy way to benefit from their brain-boosting benefits.

Vegetables High In Nitrate

Foods that are highest in dietary nitrates are:

  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Beetroot
  • Bok Choy

And a medium amount of nitrates in:

  • Turnip
  • Cabbage
  • Green Beans
  • Leeks
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Potato
  • Garlic
  • Peppers

Nitrates have many positive effects on your health, especially on your cardiovascular system and therefore on blood pressure and cerebral blood flow.

These same vegetables are also high in antioxidants, which protect your brain from damage caused by free radicals and are associated with increased cognitive performance.

Eat a few servings of these vegetables every day to get the brain-boosting benefits of nitrates and antioxidants.