Food for Thought

Fall is definitely a busier time for me (and for basically everyone I know!).  The lazy days of summer are finally over, and it’s time to get back to work – or in my case – school.  And while it was nice during summer to take a little mental vacation – now it’s time to get back to work!  Recently, a friend of mine asked me if there were certain foods she could eat that would give her a little more “brain” power.  While there is definitely no one food that is a panacea for feeling mentally sluggish, there are definitely foods that can sharpen your brainpower.  According to a recent article in Cooking Light, nutritionist Karen Ansel recommends these foods to help amp up your mind:

  • Blackberries and blueberries

Blackberries and blueberries are full of antioxidants called polyphenols.  Polyphenols reduce inflammation and make it easier for neurons to send information in your brain – helping to improve our ability to understand new information, according to a 2009 Tufts University study.

  • Salmon

While salmon get a lot of attention for being a heart-healthy food, it’s also amazing brain food.  Why?  Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids which comprise the fat in your brain, and also vitamin D, which has been proven to help aid against cognitive decline.

  • Spinach

Spinach is truly a nutritional powerhouse, full of vitamins like folate, vitamin E and vitamin K.  According to a 2006 study in Neurology, eating cruciferous vegetables such as spinach can delay cognitive decline by 40%.

  • Coffee

A recent study in Finland discovered that people in their 40s and 50s who drank 3-5 cups of coffee a day “reduced their odds of developing Alzheimer’s by 65% compared to those who downed fewer than 2 cups a day.”  Drinking black coffee with skim milk is a great way to get a good energy boost and improve brain power.

  • Chocolate

As if I needed another reason to eat more chocolate!  According to a 2009 study, as little chocolate as 1/3 of an ounce a day (2 hershey’s kisses for example) can help protect against memory loss.  So maybe eating more chocolate can help me find my keys??!

  • Apples

Another reason to love this crunchy fruit — they contain quercetin – an antioxidant that helps protect your brain cells.  According to scientists at Cornell University, “quercetin defends your brain from free radical attacks which can damage the outer lining of delicate neurons and eventually lead to cognitive decline”.  And guess what’s even better?  Fall is the perfect season for apples – so make sure to pick up some good old Galas at your local farmer’s market!

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