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Home/Blog/11 Brain Foods (and Best Supplements)

11 Brain Foods (and Best Supplements)

By Ethan Boldt

December 10, 2023

Brain foods

“You are what you eat.” It’s a common saying that essentially means you need to eat in healthy ways if you want to be healthy. But what about “you are what you think”? Are there better ways to eat that also help support your healthy cognitive function? You bet there is. 

Due to effects of the natural aging process and certain lifestyle factors, the human brain begins to lose some of its thinking and memory abilities (as well as other cognitive skills) by the late 20s or 30s. This is a natural process, but how well someone can maintain normal/healthy cognitive function depends on factors like their genetics, diet, physical activity level, sleep and levels of stress.

Scientists continue to uncover evidence that what we eat plays a huge role in the health of our brains. When it comes to staying mentally sharp and focused, eating plenty of brain foods can make a difference.

The gut and the brain are tightly connected, and when we focus on giving our bodies whole, nutritious foods, we help take care of both.

What are the top foods for your brain? Among the top brain foods are fruits, veggies, certain oils and even chocolate. Learn more below.

What Are Brain Foods?

Brain foods are typically rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. They provide your brain with energy and aid in supporting the gut-brain connection as well as a healthy inflammation response.

A number of important hormones and neurotransmitters are created in the gut and are then able to enter the brain, which affects our cognitions — such as understanding and processing new information as well as memory and concentration. This means that a well-functioning gut is essential for sending the brain the kind of chemical signals that help us keep functioning at our best.

Meanwhile, a poor-quality diet can cause our bodies to release more inflammatory cytokines, which studies show can negatively impact our cognitive function.

Best Brain Foods

1. Avocados

While avocados often get a bad rap because of their high fat content, it’s important to note that these green powerhouses are packed with monounsaturated fats or the “good” kind, which have been shown to promote cognitive health and support healthy blood sugar levels (already in the normal range). 

Try this recipe: Avocado toast with egg

2. Beets

Beets are root vegetables and some of the most nutritious foods for the brain that you can eat considering they help support healthy inflammation levels and are loaded with antioxidants to help support healthy detoxification. The natural nitrates in beets actually can boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. 

Pick up some fresh beets and roast or steam them, then eat them as a side dish or enjoy in an arugula and goat cheese salad.

3. Blueberries + Other Berries

Blueberries and other berries (like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.) are fruits that experts recommend consuming daily. Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods, with loads of vitamin C and vitamin K. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at promoting healthy brains and fighting oxidative stress.

Try this recipe: Blueberry chia seed pudding

4. Broccoli

Along with related veggies like cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts, broccoli is one of the best brain foods thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline, which can help keep your memory sharp.

It’s also loaded with vitamin C — in fact, just one cup provides you with 150 percent of your recommended daily intake. Additionally it contains a number of phytonutrients that help promote healthy brain cells against oxidative stress.

Try this recipe: Cream of broccoli soup

5. Celery

Celery contains high levels of antioxidants and polysaccharides to support healthy inflammation levels. It’s a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin B6.

Try ants (raisins) on a log with almond butter as a healthy snack. 

6. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is full of flavonols, which have antioxidants and support healthy inflammation levels. Some studies show cocoa can increase blood flow and lower oxidative stress in the brain. 

The rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more perks it offers. Opt for a minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70 percent of cacao. This ensures you’ll get your cocoa fix and its brain benefits!

Try this recipe: Dark chocolate protein smoothie

7. Egg Yolks

Undeservedly on the nutritional naughty list for years, egg yolks contain large amounts of choline, which helps in fetal brain development for pregnant women. Choline also breaks down bethane, a chemical that produces hormones related to feelings of well-being. Just be sure you buy organic, free-range eggs.

Try this recipe: Egg bites

8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

EVOO is among the top recommended brain foods due to its powerful antioxidant polyphenols as well as healthy monounsaturated fats. A staple ingredient in the Mediterranean diet and the related MIND diet, studies show these two eating plans are associated with cognitive benefits among older adults.

As great as extra virgin olive oil is, remember that it’s not a good option for cooking, as it hydrogenizes and begins decomposing at high temperatures. The best way to get your fill is by having it cold or at room temperature, such as part of a salad dressing

9. Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables — like kale, spinach and Swiss chard — are also loaded with vitamins A and K (just one cup of kale has more than 684 percent of your recommended daily serving!), which help support healthy inflammation levels. 

Studies have found that consumption of approximately one serving per day of green leafy vegetables daily can help promote healthy cognition. 

Try this recipe: Collagen kale smoothie

10. Wild-Caught Salmon 

Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your brain running smoothly ­and help boost memory. Salmon provides both EPA and DHA, two types of essential fatty acids that the body uses to support healthy inflammation levels, resulting in supporting healthy brain function.

Grill or bake a filet of wild-caught salmon and couple with some roasted potatoes and sauteed greens for a healthy, delicious dinner.

11. Walnuts

Walnuts contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and studies indicate that they can help promote mental alertness. 

Have a handful as an afternoon snack.

Best Cognitive Health Support Supplements

Certain supplements can help your body cope with stress, and foster your ability to maintain a positive outlook, due to how they support homeostasis (or balance within your body). Here are some of the top cognitive health support supplements to try.

(Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation.)

1. Multi Collagen Protein Brain Boost

Multi Collagen Protein is already known for its body-wide benefits — significant skin, joint and gut benefits courtesy of a proprietary fermented collagen ingredient backed by human clinical studies and bovine collagen.

This newer formulation adds a brain boost to the mix, with a superfood blend that combines organic fermented ashwagandha root, ginkgo leaves and bacopa brahmi leaves, plus organic ashwagandha root and leaf extract and organic lion’s mane extract. These powerful botanicals have been used for centuries to support concentration, focus and positivity.

2. Ancient Herbals Brain + Mood Capsules

This unique formula is made with a blend of organic botanicals and mushrooms, including organic lion’s mane mushroom, bacopa brahmi, ashwagandha and ginkgo leaf. Together these ingredients can help support a healthy response to stress, promote a positive mindset and help support healthy cognitive function.

3. Ancient Herbals Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that traditionally has been used to help the body adapt to fight the effects of stress, including the stress hormone cortisol. Simultaneously, ashwagandha has been able to help bolster DHEA levels, which is often referred to as a healthy aging hormone and known to have positive effects on overall body health.

4. Ancient Omegas Whole Body

Omega-3 fatty acids are known as "essential fatty acids" — meaning your body doesn't naturally produce them, but does need them for overall function. This formula purposefully balances omega-3s with omega-6s and omega-9s to help promote healthy cognitive function and also support healthy aging in other ways, such as by promoting cardiovascular health, smooth skin and healthy joints.

5. Superfood Matcha Powder

Our superfood matcha green tea powder is made with a blend of dried matcha green tea, plus energizing coconut MCTs and adaptogenic superfoods like ashwagandha, reishi and chaga mushroom. This combination supports healthy energy levels, reduces fatigue (thanks to inclusion of caffeine from matcha and organic coffee cherry), and contributes to mental clarity and concentration support.

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