The brain is perhaps the most important organ of the body. The brain controls our thoughts, memories, emotions, sensations, vision, breathing, motor skills, temperature, hunger, and every single process that regulates our body. (1) Without it, we could not survive.
Unfortunately, as we age, our brain health can decline, and many people today suffer from age-related cognitive decline. While many factors can contribute to cognitive decline, a significant one is a lack of essential nutrients in the diet over prolonged periods.
Like any organ, the brain needs certain nutrients to function. If you do not supply your body with the nutrients it needs to function, its health will naturally decline.
The good news is there are many foods for brain health. So by adding more of these foods to your diet, you can better protect your brain from cognitive decline and can also improve brain health and function no matter what your age is.
What Foods Are Good for Brain Health?
There are many great foods for brain health. We will not be able to discuss all the foods that benefit brain health, but we will mention some of the top brain health foods you can easily incorporate into your diet.
Before discussing the best foods for your brain, it's important to note that the best thing you can do for your brain health (at least regarding diet) is to focus on getting all your essential nutrients. Whether you get these nutrients from plants, animals, or supplements is a personal choice. The fact is, however, that unless you are meeting your daily nutritional requirements, the health of your body, and therefore your brain, is going to suffer.
Make sure you are getting the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in your diet. Ideally, these nutrients will come from organic, unprocessed whole foods, and whatever you cannot easily get from diet, you can obtain from supplements.
A nutrient-rich diet should be your foundation for health overall. But if you are focused on improving brain health specifically, you can focus on incorporating more of these brain-supporting foods in your diet, as well as incorporating certain herbs that benefit brain health.
Best Foods for Brain Health
Below, we've listed our picks for the best foods for brain health:
Salmon is a fantastic food for brain health. In fact, all fatty fish have benefits for brain health. This is because fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The brain is made of up to 70 percent fat, and fat is essential for proper brain function. (2) We need to ensure we get enough omega-3 fatty acids in our diet, specifically, as these are the essential building blocks of our brain and are needed for learning and memory.
Fatty fish like salmon are the best foods for memory and overall brain health and function. In addition to being a building block of the brain, omega-3 fatty acids are associated with lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, the protein that forms damaging clumps in the brain in people with certain cognitive diseases. (3)
It is important to make sure you get your fish from quality sources, as fish can also be a source of heavy metal contamination, which may negatively impact brain health.
Blueberries are an incredible food for brain health because they are rich in antioxidants that protect brain cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. (4) All antioxidant compounds in foods can help protect the brain from oxidative stress, but blueberries contain a particularly beneficial class of antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Berries also contain compounds called flavonoids that have been linked to improved memory. (4) All berries, especially blueberries, are some of the top foods that are good for your brain and memory.
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that is often used as a culinary spice. It is an incredible food for brain health as it helps to lower brain inflammation, a significant risk factor for neurological disease. (5) The anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric are due to a compound in the plant called curcumin. Curcumin is one of the most well-researched compounds, and numerous studies have found that it can help to lower inflammatory markers in the body.
4. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables, such as lettuce, kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach, are among the best foods for brain health. These foods contain many beneficial nutrients for brain health, such as vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene. Research on these foods and their compounds has shown that they play a significant role in slowing cognitive decline. (6)
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are also very beneficial for brain health. These foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have many brain-boosting benefits. They are also a great alternative source of these fatty acids for vegans and vegetarians that do not wish to eat fatty fish.
Nuts and seeds also contain other beneficial brain nutrients like antioxidants and vitamin E. The consumption of nuts and seeds has also been shown to improve heart health markers, which may improve circulation and, therefore, improve brain health as well. (7)
Some of the best nuts and seeds for brain health include:
- Brazil nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
If possible, purchase sprouted varieties or soak nuts and seeds before consumption, as this can remove certain anti-nutrients in the outer shells that improves their bioavailability, allowing you to absorb more nutrients.
Oranges are another amazing food for brain health and one of the best foods for brain fog. Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, which has antioxidant and neuroprotective effects on the brain. Animal studies have also shown that vitamin C plays a vital role in neurodevelopment by "influencing neuronal differentiation and the general development of neurons and myelin formation." (8)
Furthermore, oranges contain simple sugar that acts as fuel for the brain. Fructose from fruit is converted to glucose in the body, which is the brain's primary fuel source. Brain functions like learning, thinking, and memory is closely linked to glucose levels and how efficiently the brain uses this fuel source. If there isn't enough glucose in the brain, neurotransmitters are not produced, and communication between neurons begins to break down. (9)
Eggs are an excellent food for brain health as they are rich in essential nutrients. Some of the nutrients that are particularly beneficial for brain health include vitamins B6 and B12, folate, choline, lutein, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.
Choline is a micronutrient not found in many foods, at least not in as significant quantities as in eggs. Choline helps create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory. (10)
The B vitamins in eggs are also very beneficial for the brain. Vitamin B12, for example, is involved in synthesizing brain chemicals, producing red blood cells, and regulating sugar levels in the brain. (11)
Many people are deficient in choline and vitamin B12, and eggs are a great source of both nutrients.
Herbs for Brain Health
In addition to foods for brain health, certain herbs have been shown to benefit cognitive health. For example, our Ginkgo Biloba Brain Flow Tonic contains a blend of herbal extracts that works synergistically to support brain health and function. The primary herb in this formula is ginkgo biloba, an herb widely researched for its ability to enhance circulation to the brain. (12)
The brain is an incredibly important organ. Unfortunately, as we age, it is common for cognitive health to decline. While many factors contribute to age-related cognitive decline, diet is significant.
So, what foods are best for the brain? While there are many foods good for brain health, our top picks include:
- Leafy Green Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds
Including these foods in your diet is a great way to support your brain's health and function. Of course, if you are concerned about brain health or are experiencing any symptoms of cognitive decline, consult your doctor for professional medical advice.