5 Foods that Make You Smarter
Growing up as identical twins, we always felt pressure to keep up with each other. Neither one of us wanted to fall behind; we felt like we could never have an off day or we’d lose our edge. Turns out a lot our friends and clients tell us the same thing. Even in the absence of a twin, they feel they need to stay sharp and focused to remain competitive at work or school.
Do you too, want to rev your brainpower, focus and mental performance? The foods you eat can help by boosting brain health and keeping age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases at bay. Here are some of the foods we’ve been eating:
1. Blueberries: People tend to forget about blueberries in the winter, but they’re available year round. Blueberries contain anthocyanins, which give them their blue tint and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Animal studies also show that a diet rich in blueberries improves learning in older animals and make them mentally equivalent to younger animals.
Eat more blueberries:
• Toss them in cereal or in yogurt.
• Make a parfait. We layer nonfat vanilla yogurt, blueberries, cinnamon and quinoa.
• Sprinkle blueberries on waffles and in pancakes.
• Add them to salads (they add a lot of pizzazz with a deliciously sweet flavor).
2. Salmon and sardines: We’ve all heard that fish is brain food and there’s good reason for it. Fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, are packed with omega 3’s, which protect the brain and support its development. Plus omega 3’s may play a vital role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older. People who get more omega 3’s have lower rates of dementia and slower mental decline. For brain and heart health, eat two servings weekly.
Eat more salmon and sardines:
• Enjoy poached salmon with lemon, a baked potato, and steamed green beans for dinner.
• Toss canned salmon into a veggie omelet.
• Eat sardines like you would eat canned salmon or tuna. We use them on salads and love that they are very low in both mercury and other contaminants that many people worry about with fish.
3. Apples: Apples contain compounds that may be able to protect the brain from the type of damage that triggers neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. One of those compounds, a flavonoid called quercetin, has been shown to protect the brain from oxidative damage. We’ve had an apple nearly every day since high school, usually with breakfast. We hope it works its magic on us, as Alzheimer’s has affected members of our family.
Eat more apples:
• Have an apple with string cheese as a snack.
• Munch on apple slices with peanut butter.
4. Eggs: When it comes to the brain and eggs, don’t forget about the yolk. Yolks contain one of the most important nutrients for building better brains: choline. Choline contributes to healthy and efficient brain processes. Getting adequate amounts of choline, especially during fetal development and early childhood, may help us learn more readily and also help us retain what we learn. Plus, sufficient choline intake early on may give us the mental building blocks we need to help keep memory intact as we age. As we age, our body’s natural choline output declines, and its neurochemical action weakens. So this is the time that you also want to eat choline-rich foods to increase your production of acetylcholine, which will improve your brain power.
Eat more eggs:
• Have a hard-boiled egg and fruit for breakfast or a snack.
• Veggie omelets for breakfast—or dinner!
5. Tea: Green, black, and oolong tea contain an amino acid called theanine, which can bring about both mental calmness and alertness that allows you to perform your best. Plus, the warm drink decreases stress so you can focus better.
Drink more tea:
• Sip tea throughout the day.
• Consider making a soup with green tea as the base/ broth.
Which of these will you do to boost your brain power?