1. Dark red and purple fruits and vegetables
A study at Tufts University in the United States suggests that blueberry consumption may have an effect in slowing short-term memory loss. Blueberries are full of anthocyanin. This antioxidant protects the brain from free radicals and promotes the flow of oxygen to the brain.
With other purple and dark red fruits and vegetables such as blackberries, blackcurrants (cassis), and red cabbage you can actually achieve the same effect. Blue and blackcurrants are also packed with vitamin C and that vitamin is happy to assist you in maintaining your focus. Certain studies show that vitamin C may also be helpful in managing anxiety and stress.
2. Whole grains
Whole grains are important suppliers of vitamin E and that vitamin lends a hand to sharpen our memory. Whole grains also provide an adequate and steady supply of glucose to our brain (through our blood) and that stimulates our ability to concentrate. Our grey cells need that energy to function properly. A shortage of healthy carbohydrates can even lead to ‘brain fog’ and irritability.
Because whole grains have a low glycemic index, glucose (energy) is released slowly, which allows us to remain alert throughout the day. Oats are ideal because they are relatively low in calories. They provide a very long feeling of satiety because it is so high in fiber.
A banana is an ideal snack if you want to give your concentration a boost. The especially large amount of potassium that bananas contain is a benefit for the brain. In addition, bananas are also suppliers of iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and calcium: all minerals that the body can use well. And they are also vitamin bombs because as contain a lot of vitamins in high concentrations.
4. Dark chocolate
It’s no coincidence that some people reach for chocolate when they’re stressed. In dark chocolate, there is quite a bit of magnesium, a mineral that boosts the mood and makes us feel more relaxed. But dark chocolate also contains a touch of caffeine and that in turn stimulates concentration. Chocolate, on the other hand, is high in calories. Fortunately, a block of chocolate or a cup of chocolate milk during an afternoon dip is enough to crank up your focus again.
Although our brain only occupies a small part of our body, it consumes as much as 20 percent of the energy we absorb through our diet. Our brains consist of about 60 percent fats and they need to be regularly supplemented with new healthy fats. And when it comes to healthy fats, the avocado is a prime source!
In addition, avocado stimulates blood circulation, which is very important for the proper functioning of the brain and helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
6. Nuts and seeds
Eating a handful of walnuts daily is good for your mental health. Just like whole grains and green leafy vegetables, walnuts and pumpkin seeds are full of vitamin E. The latter is an important player in slowing cognitive decline and in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, no ‘brain food’ has been discovered so far that fully protects us against dementia, but certain nutrients can play a positive role in its prevention anyway.
Other nuts are also good for our brain and that also applies to seeds such as flaxseed and pumpkin seeds. Broken flaxseeds provide your body with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and magnesium, each of which in their own way helps you focus and keep your head clear.
Pumpkin seeds, on the other hand, are richer in zinc than many other seeds. Zinc is a mineral that is vital for our thinking ability and memory. Pumpkin seeds are also chock-full of the stress-reducing mineral magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan. The latter substance is the precursor of serotonin and thus a harbinger of a good mood.
7. Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
Spinach is associated with strong muscles thanks to Popeye the sailor, but this green leafy vegetable is also a blessing for the brain! Spinach protects the brain and promotes mental clarity because it’s packed with antioxidants and B vitamins. The greener the spinach, the more it contains these nutrients. Like all other green leafy vegetables, it also provides quite a bit of folic acid and is an important supplier of vitamin E.
Sage has long had a reputation for improving concentration and memory. This is deduced from a number of studies, most of which do focus on sage extract. Adding a few leaves of fresh or dried sage to a dish is a good idea anyway. Do not let the sage boil and put it in the pan at the end of the preparation to preserve the beneficial oils as much as possible and let them do their job.
Pregnant women should not eat large amounts of sage as a precaution.
9. Oily fish
Our body cannot produce essential fatty acids itself and therefore we have to absorb them through our diet. The most effective omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, kippers), flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and soybeans. We not only need these fats for healthy brain function, but they are also extremely important for the heart and joints.
The advantage of fatty fish is that they contain these essential fatty acids in a ready-made form, ready to be used by the body right away. EPA and DHA, two important omega-3 fatty acids present in fatty fish, help with stress management and stimulate the production of serotonin. In this way, they are the pacesetter of a positive feeling and good mood.
Egg yolk is a rich source of choline, an essential substance for the production of the memory-enhancing substance acetylcholine. Along with vitamins B1 and B3, choline plays an important role in regulating brain functions.
Broccoli contains a wealth of vitamin K, a vitamin known to improve brain power and cognitive functions. Research has shown that broccoli is rich in glucosinolates, which is a compound that can slow down the breakdown of acetylcholine. And we need that acetylcholine precisely to make our central nervous system perform optimally and to keep our brain and memory on edge.
Other vegetables rich in glucosinolates include cauliflower, kale, green cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
12. Green tea
Green tea contains more caffeine than black or white tea and also more theanine. That substance ensures that the caffeine from the tea is released little by little so that you stay alert longer and the focus is not limited to a short kick.