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Feeling Brain-Drained? Get a Boost With These 8 Foods

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If you want to boost your memory and think more clearly, The Stroke Foundation has eight yummy ideas for boosting your brain power with foods. From berries to cherries to apples, eggs, oysters and fatty fish and turmeric, these foods will give you a heads-up on your thinking skills. And, good news! Cocoa is on the list, too.

1. Berries — Full of flavor and great because they can also serve as a finger food, berries of all kinds play a part in brain function. Their antioxidant powers may even help fight age-related diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s.

2. Cherries — These little balls on a stem are loaded with Cox-2 inhibitors, which fight inflammation, and polyphenols that can help fight heart attacks and strokes.

3. Apples — Apples — make sure they’re organic! — have brain-protecting compounds, phenolic acids and flavonoids that can reduce your risk of neurodegenerative disorders.

4. Curry (turmeric) — The power of turmeric just goes on and on. This spice has a wealth of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. The Stroke Foundation says it may even be useful in treating Alzheimer’s.

The fact is curcumin, a bioactive ingredient in the curry spice turmeric, exhibits over 150 possibly therapeutic properties, and is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. Research shows that another bioactive compound in turmeric, aromatic turmerone, can increase neural stem cell growth in the brain by as much as 80 percent at certain concentrations.

5. Eggs — Eggs are good for you, but make sure they’re pasture-raised, not from concentrated animal feeding operations CAFOs). The choline in eggs can help boost the mental building blocks you need to think clearly and keep your memory strong.

6. Sardines — One of several types of fatty fish, sardines are a brain food due to the omega-3 fatty acids in them. Omega-3 fats have a great impact on your brain health, working to keep the dopamine levels in your brain high, increasing neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of your brain, and increasing cerebral circulation. Other good omega-3 foods include wild-caught Alaskan salmon and anchovies.

7. Oysters — According to The Stroke Foundation, oysters can serve your brain well because of all the zinc and iron they have in them. Studies show that zinc levels can impact your memory skills, and proper iron stores can help your ability to concentrate. Just be careful not to overdo it on iron, as too much iron can be as bad or worse than too little.

8. Cocoa — Cocoa and all its wondrous flavor is loaded with antioxidants and flavonols that can improve brain function. One word of warning, though: Cocoa is not the same as chocolate loaded with milk and sugar; it’s the cacao content that we’re talking about here.

Cacao is bitter, not sweet, and the amount of sugar added, and the processing chocolate undergoes, makes a huge difference in terms of whether it has any health benefits.

Raw cacao gets its bitter taste from the polyphenols present, and these plant compounds are also responsible for most of the health benefits associated with dark chocolate. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has few, if any, redeeming qualities, as it is loaded with sugar, containing very low amounts of flavonol-rich cacao.

Human studies show that chocolate helps improve stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immune function — but this is only true if it’s at least 70 percent cacao sweetened with organic can sugar.

The cacao bean contains hundreds of naturally occurring compounds, including epicatechin, resveratrol, phenylethylamine (which boosts mood) and theobromine, which has effects similar to that of caffeine.

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