There are two key points to maintaining a brain-healthy diet. The first is that as your belly grows, your brain tends to shrink. Research has demonstrated a direct correlation between obesity and a shrinking of your hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory and recall. So it’s vital to limit the quantities of food you eat, and to be sure to get plenty of exercise. The second factor in a brain-healthy diet is carefully choosing what you eat. Certain unhealthy foods, like refined sugars, increase cellular inflammation and reduce blood flow to the brain. The superfoods listed below do the opposite, reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow to the brain to make it stronger than ever.
Brain Superfood 1: Elderberries
Elderberries are packed with quercetin, a flavonoid that’s critical to your brain’s health. Like blueberries and strawberries, the flavonoids found in elderberries help reduce harmful inflammation at a cellular level. Additionally, quercetin increases the activity of your cells’ mitochondria, which you can think of as the “powerhouses” within each of your cells. By boosting your mitochondrial activity, you’ll boost your overall energy level, too.
Brain Superfood 2: Pecans
Pecans are high in omega-3s, which are vital for a healthy brain. In fact, pecans are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut, and are ranked by the USDA among the top 15 foods with the highest antioxidant capacity. A brand new study shows consumption of omega-3 rich foods like pecans can dramatically reduce the risk of neural degeneration.
Brain Superfood 3: Chicken Giblets or Clams
Most of us make the mistake of throwing chicken giblets (the neck, kidneys, gizzard, heart and liver that come bundled inside a whole chicken) directly into the trash. Even though they may not look appealing at first, fight the urge to toss them! Not only can the giblets be delicious as an addition to a chicken stock or prepared on their own (you’ll find plenty of recipes online), but they’re a great sources of vitamin B12, which is crucial for brain health. In fact, just a cup of giblets provides 228% of your recommended daily dose of B12. If you can’t bring yourself to eat them, however, clams are another terrific source. They also contain zinc and iron, which have been associated with the brain’s ability to stay focused and recall information.
Brain Superfood 4: Vegetable Juice
Vegetables are like heath gold mines, providing all the vitamins and antioxidants our hearts and brains need. Juiced vegetables are a convenient and delicious way to get all those vital nutrients. If you’re buying vegetable juice at the market, look for bottles labeled all-natural with no added sugar. Of course, the best way to enjoy vegetable juice is freshly juiced at home, with no added sugar or preservatives. Whether store-bought or homemade, be sure to limit your intake to 8 ounces a day to avoid excess sugars.
Brain Superfood 5: Beets
Nosh on this root vegetable to boost your brainpower. As we age, poor blood flow contributes to cognitive decline. Research has determined, however, that the natural nitrates found in beets (as well as cabbages and radishes) can actually increase blood flow to the brain, thereby improving mental performance. Be sure to make beets and all the superfoods listed above a part of your diet. You’ll send your brain capacity through the roof, and tip the scales in the battle against Alzheimer’s.
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