6 Best Foods for Brain Health, Memory: Fish, Berries, Greens and More

6 Best Foods for Brain Health, Memory: Fish, Berries, Greens and More

Foods like berries, green vegetables, and nuts can improve brain health and memory.  (Photos via Getty Images)

Foods like berries, green vegetables, and nuts can improve brain health and memory. (Photos via Getty Images)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified healthcare practitioner before engaging in physical activity or making any changes to your diet, medications, or lifestyle.

“You are what you eat” isn’t just an old adage – it’s the truth when it comes to your brain.

Foods that raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, such as saturated and trans fats, not only clog your arteries and affect your heart, but are also bad for your brain.

Over time, a diet high in LDL can negatively affect your brain health and memory due to a buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in your brain.

However, if you stick to a diet focused on poly and monounsaturated fats, you will be doing yourself a favor in the short and long term.

Read on to discover some of the best foods that science says will boost your memory and brain health over time.

Piece of raw salmon with cilantro garnish on white background.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, help develop brain cells. (Photo via Getty Images)

oily fish

Oily fish almost always top the list of brain-healthy foods. Why? Oily fish are treasure troves of omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that have been linked to lower levels of beta-amyloid plaques that form harmful clumps in the brain.

Omega-3 fatty acids also play a vital role in your nervous system, making up half of the fat that makes up your brain. These fats help develop brain cells, making them an essential part of learning and memory.

Here are some great omega-3 fatty fish options:

  • Salmon

  • Canned light tuna

  • Atlantic mackerel

  • herring

  • Sardines

  • Cod

  • Trout

  • Pollock

Rolled oats, seeds and bran in wooden spoons on a wooden table.

Whole grains are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects your brain cells from oxidative stress. (Photo via Getty Images)

Whole grains

Whole grains are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects your cells from oxidative stress to which the brain is very sensitive. Oxidative stress contributes to memory degeneration later in life, but high levels of vitamin E have been linked to better brain performance.

You can incorporate whole grains into your diet by replacing refined carbohydrates like breakfast cereals, white rice, and white bread with whole grains such as:

  • groats

  • Brown rice

  • Whole grain pasta

  • quinoa

  • whole grain bread

  • Buckwheat

Assortment of leafy greens including kale, spinach and rainbow chard

Vitamin K, found in leafy green vegetables, slows the effects of cognitive decline and is great for brain health. (Photo via Getty Images)

leafy vegetables

Vitamin K, beta-carotene, lutein, and folate are beneficial nutrients found in leafy green vegetables. Research shows these nutrients help slow the effects of cognitive decline and are great for brain health.

In fact, a single 160-gram serving of broccoli will provide more than 100% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin K, which has been linked to better memory when consumed in high doses.

Other leafy vegetables that are great for brain health and memory include:

  • kale

  • Spinach

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Green cabbage

  • Cabbage

walnuts, almonds, cashews and hazelnuts close-up

Nuts are rich in nutrients that aid memory and benefit your brain. (Photo via Getty Images)

Nuts

Nuts are great sources of protein, but they’re also high in other nutrients that aid memory and benefit your brain health.

Nutrients like vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and whole grains are also found in many types of nuts.

A diet high in nuts has been linked to better brain function later in life and helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

You can mix nuts with your morning oatmeal, combine them with fruits and seeds in a trail mix, or eat them on their own. Here are some good nuts for brain health:

  • Nut

  • Almonds

  • Hazelnut

  • Peanuts

  • pecan nuts

  • Cashew nut

Overhead view of a cup of black coffee, on top of a pile of raw coffee beans

Coffee may protect your brain against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. (Photo via Getty Images)

Coffee

Coffee isn’t just good for your energy boost at work in the morning or midday – research also suggests it protects your brain against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Donald Weaver, co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute, published a study in Frontiers in Neuroscience who found a correlation between certain roasting processes and a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Additionally, reasonable coffee consumption has been linked to several other health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, protection against certain cancers, and lower blood pressure.

Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a white bowl

The berries increase brain elasticity and reduce inflammation. (Photo via Getty Images)

Berries

Not only do the powerful antioxidants found in dark-skinned berries help fight age-related neurodegenerative diseases, but they have also been shown to improve brain health by:

  • Increase brain elasticity, which boosts memory and helps the brain develop new connections

  • Improve communication between brain cells

  • Reduce inflammation

Antioxidants found in brain-healthy foods like berries and whole grains protect your brain against oxidative stress that leads to brain degeneration. These antioxidants are found in the form of flavonoids in berries such as:

  • Blueberries

  • blackberries

  • Strawberries

  • blackberries

  • Cassis

The bottom line

While indulging in saturated fat in moderation won’t immediately ruin your brain health, your lifelong eating habits will influence the quality of your memory and overall brain health.

Eating healthy, brain-friendly foods benefits your overall well-being.

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