Remember when our moms used to say that smart people eat fish because it makes them smarter? They were not wrong. When you are contemplating what to eat for your next meal, or snack, there are some options to consider that are beneficial to our brains. As nutritionists often say, a healthy diet is the cornerstone of healthy cognition.
As a health coach, I find the science regarding proper nutrition comforting. Just the fact alone that we have choices is a comfort to me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a cookie now and then, but I also love the fact that if I eat a cup of blueberries, I am boosting my cognition. Studies on populations that primarily eat a Mediterranean diet, have shown to have better heart health, better life expectancy, as well as slower cognitive decline that is associated with aging. A Mediterranean diet consists of mainly -olive oil, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains; are all rich in antioxidants and protective compounds.
The brain, which uses 20% of the calories we consume, is able to improve connections and functions better if we are fueling our bodies with nutrients that can help improve cellular repair. Some key nutrients to focus on are antioxidants that include beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and flavonols. Calcium, fiber, Vitamin B6, B12, folate, zinc, and Omega-3 fatty acids. These can be found in a variety of foods.
The next time you reach for a snack, think pumpkin seeds, purple grapes, an apple with a nut butter, or a handful of almonds. As you plan your weekly menu, think salmon, shrimp, chicken, spinach, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes and carrots, along with whole grains. Don’t forget the green tea and dark chocolate with 70% cocoa.
Stay tuned for more nutrition ideas to help you live your most nutritious life.