Spring is here, and with the long, sunshine filled days, comes a generous bounty of different wholesome foods to help pump up your brain power. Who hasn’t needed a natural boost some time during your day, to help you get through those long, working hours? With the connection between different types of nutrients found in foods and the energy that works its way to your brain, choosing the right snack is key to finding that extra brain power for your day.
Here are some foods that will definitely top up your brain power:
Turmeric is a plant found in the ginger family, and is known by its bright yellow color and slightly bitter flavor. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been proven to stimulate neurogenesis, which is the process of creating new brain cells. Studies have also shown that turmeric can help fight Alzheimer’s disease and help improve memory function. It is also currently being used in trials to suppress cancer tumor growth in several stages of development.
Turmeric is commonly found in curry, and yellow mustard. There are great and easy ways to incorporate turmeric into your daily snacks.
Seeds, roasted in the oven, tossed with olive oil and curry powder make a great afternoon snack. Or how about incorporating a handmade honey mustard vinaigrette, tossed with fresh cherries and goat cheese into your daily salad?
Avocados usually get passed over in most articles about brain health, but they do a lot for the body. Foods that promote good blood health are vital to healthy brains, as unimpeded blood flow provides good brain health. Avocados also lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and increase your HDL (good cholesterol levels). This is important because high blood pressure can reduce your cognitive abilities.
Ripe avocados are slightly squishy. They yield gently when pressure is applied, but too soft and it may be bruised. Avocados are most often consumed raw, and paired with lemon or lime juice to prevent browning when exposed to air.
Because of the high fat content in avocados, about 1/4 to 1/2 an avocado is the standard serving size. Make your own fresh (and low sodium) guacamole, or slice some up for your sandwich or burger.
Blueberries are the most commonly touted “superfood” on the market- but for good reason. Blueberries have been shown in studies to increase the cognitive and learning abilities in rats. The good news is, it’s not just blueberries with the powerful antioxidants. Blackberries, cranberries, and strawberries all have high concentrations of the brain boosters to help your brain cells communicate more effectively with each other.
Lucky for us, these berries contain the same amount of nutritional value whether dried, frozen or fresh, making it nearly impossible not incorporate these into our diet. Whether you add some to your favorite granola mix for a yogurt breakfast topper, and eat fresh berries on salads or straight out of a ziplock bag, berries are easy, tasty, and a perfect brain booster to complement a long work day.
Always a controversial issue, caffeine does in fact improve alertness and coordination. Reports state caffeine provides better focus and clearer thought flow. Studies on athletes have seen increased performance in sprint, endurance, and team sport performance. Moderate coffee consumption has been proven to decrease heart disease, diabetes, and encourage an overall lower rate of cancer. However, too much caffeine can elevate heart rate, cause palpitations, and actually hinder performance by disrupting coordination.
Try to mix up your caffeine intake with more than the traditional java beverage. Starting your day with a cup of coffee is good, but keep the levels of caffeine stable with dark chocolate in your trail mix; which has shown to improve memory function in its own right, and green tea in the afternoon- a lower caffeine punch with many cancer fighting attributes.
With beans such as chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) bringing magnesium levels to the table of 220 mg per serving, and pinto beans carrying 73% of your daily value of folate per serving, beans are powerhouses when it comes to supplying your brain with boosts. Magnesium is a mineral that helps your body’s metabolism run smoothly, and helps increase brain cell transmission. Folate is a B vitamin linked to increased brain function, allowing nerves to function properly as well as preventing dementia related diseases.
With beans residing in great foods work place style foods such as hummus (add some pumpkin and garlic to ratchet up that nutritional punch!) and great cold pasta salad recipes (with olive oil, a great brain booster, as well as lycopene filled tomatoes, perfect for fighting free radical cell damage) there are many delicious ways to bring beans into your work diet.
It’s easy to forget how food consumption can increase our work productivity or mental alertness. These are some great items to remember next time you hit the grocery store, for increase in your brain power to provide successful gains at work!