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Researchers have identified several foods as particularly beneficial for the brain. The good news from one of the latest studies, published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, is that many of the foods are popular in Papua New Guinean and South-East Asian diets.
Here are 10 brain-healthy foods identified in the study and how they help your brain.
It’s the curcumin in this spice, often added to curries and stews, that does all the good work. Curcumin can improve memory, boost levels of feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin, and help new brain cells grow while delaying mental decline.
2 Fatty fish
Omega-3, found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, is required to build brain and nerve cells and is essential to keep your mental faculties sharp. It also improves your mood, protects the brain from decline and, when eaten in baked or broiled fish, has been found to increase those parts of the brain that affect memory, emotions and decision making.
Sage has antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties that improve concentration and memory. It has also been found to inhibit an enzyme that plays a part in Alzheimer’s disease.
Strawberries as well as blueberries, blackberries and mulberries contain flavonoids, catechins, caffeic acid and anthocyanin – plant compounds with antiinflammatory and antioxidative properties that delay cognitive decline and improve brain cell communication, learning and memory.
5 Dark chocolate
The cocoa powder in dark chocolate contains antioxidants, caffeine and flavonoids, all of which are beneficial for learning and memory. Flavonoids are moodboosters, too.
6 Pumpkin seeds
High in magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, pumpkin seeds also contain antioxidants. Magnesium is essential for the part of your brain that controls learning and memory.
These are filled with vitamin E, which protects cell membranes from damage. Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds are particularly high in vitamin E.
While broccoli is another antioxidant-high food, it is especially high in vitamin K, which is essential for forming a certain type of fat in the brain crucial for memory.
The caffeine and antioxidants in coffee improve alertness by blocking the chemical that makes you feel sleepy, boost the feelgood neurotransmitter serotonin, and sharpen concentration.
Eggs are high in choline – which is concentrated in the egg yolk – as well as folate and vitamins B6 and B12, all good for delaying cognitive decline and warding off depression.