4 Surprising Foods that Boost Brainpower
By Kat Odell
We’ve all been there—lost our keys, misplaced our phones, can’t recall if we turned off the oven. And it’s not like it gets better as we age.
The good news is that many common foods actually help to reboot the brain and fuel a stronger memory. We tapped four wellness experts to get their advice on the best ingredients to nourish the brain.
Is there anything this green wonder can’t do? The creamy, subtly sweet fruit won our hearts with its versatility and richness. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also packed with unsaturated fats and an abundance of nutrients including vitamin C and potassium, which is why clean eats food blogger Yumna Jawad is especially keen on them. The good fats in avocados “can actually improve the blood supply to the brain, which, in turn, helps improve muscle memory and cognitive abilities.” Vitamin C is also important for brain function, and a lack of potassium can be a cause of brain fog.
Try it: Treat yourself to these Beauty-Boosting Avocado Brownies
Next time you walk through the produce section at your local market, don’t pass by that squat, round, pale-brown root-looking thing. Jicama—a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine—is a fiber-rich powerhouse, and “fiber content feed(s) the beneficial bacteria in our guts that produce a compound called butyric acid, which prevents neurodegeneration and actually helps regenerate brain,” says Doctor of Oriental Medicine Pedram Shojai.
Try it: Fresh jicama adds a refreshing crunch to salads. Or, turn it into a healthier take on fries: Slice into strips, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake until golden.
Knotty, orange-hued turmeric—part of the ginger family—is one of the buzziest wellness-promoting ingredients of the last decade, and for good reason. “Turmeric is nothing short of ‘nutritional gold’ for brain and mental wellbeing,” says youtheory® chief scientific officer Dr. Nick Bitz. “Its primary compound, curcumin, readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, and influences many structures and functions within the central nervous system.”
Try it: The easiest and most effective way to get it every day is to pop a convenient supplement.
Sweet, earthy, magenta-hued beets “should be the first thing that come to mind” when considering brainpower-boosting foods, says nutritionist Tara Milhem. “Beets are rich in nitrates, the good kind, which work to relax the blood vessels, and allow oxygen-rich blood to travel throughout the body.” And for your brain, that means “more blood flow to the frontal lobe, which results in a better ability to focus and pay attention to detail,” she adds.
Try it: Add half of a medium-sized cooked beet to your favorite hummus recipe when blending, or bake them into super-healthy chips.
Hungry for more?
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BIO: Kat Odell is a food and travel journalist, author of low-alcohol cocktail book Day Drinking as well as Unicorn Food, a plant-based cookbook hinged on medicinal ingredients. Her work has been published in Vogue, New York Times’ T magazine, Travel + Leisure, Bloomberg, and Conde Nast Traveler. Follow Kat on Instagram and Twitter.
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