There have been countless articles about what to eat for optimal health. And, of course, We encourage you to read our articles on the Cellular Healing Diet on brain dysfunction and the ketogenic diet (part 1 and part 2) for brain support. However, if you are concerned about the health of your brain, that is if you want to maintain vitality and keep it from shrinking, then you may want to feed your brain these top 5 superfoods regularly.
Superfood #1: The Surprising Benefits of Nuts
The Nurses study of 86,000 nurses conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that participants who consumed 5 oz. of nuts per week, had one third lower heart attack rate than those who never or infrequently ate nuts. To quote Dr. Hu, co-author of the study, “We found that people who ate nuts every day lived longer, healthier lives than people who didn’t eat nuts.”
A professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Penny Kris-Atherton, gave a lecture at the American Heart Association where she stated: “Eating nuts lowers LDL (“bad” cholesterol), raises HDL (“good” cholesterol) and also lowers blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress.”
She has delved deeply into the health benefits of nuts and went on to explain that her research revealed that nuts could increase reverse cholesterol transport. This process encourages HDL particles to rid clogged arteries of fatty plaque.
Because of the rich content of nutrients contained in nuts: i.e., healthy fats, phytochemicals, and fiber, along with certain absorbable minerals and vitamins, nuts may provide anti-inflammatory qualities which could be protective of the cardiovascular system. Nuts may be anti-carcinogenic in part because of their anti-oxidant components.
But what can nut consumption do for our brains? Let’s discuss which nuts can make a difference to our gray matter.
A walnut looks like a replica of the human brain. But why are walnuts so brain-nourishing? First of all, they are packed with antioxidants and naturally occurring Vita E, which makes them anti-inflammatory. Walnuts can lower C Reactive protein (an inflammation marker on blood tests). And anything that can lower inflammation in the body will be very advantageous to the brain. We do NOT want inflamed brain cellular membranes!
Walnuts are also considered to be heart protective because of their cholesterol-lowering qualities. Walnuts lower LDL numbers. And by the way, all LDL particles are NOT evil. So if your LDL number is high, before getting too stressed out, please consider taking an NMR blood test to determine LDL particle size and number. Remember, the right kind of cholesterol is NOT our enemy but is our ally.
In addition, walnuts are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids, which convert into DHA. High levels of DHA keep our memory and cognition sharp.
And as sleep is clearly essential to brain health (sleep increases the amount of leptin produced), we need adequate rest every night. A 2004 study on sleep deprivation showed a 20% drop in leptin that caused a 24% increase in hunger and appetite! If you can’t control leptin (it tells the body to burn “fat” for energy), then you can’t control weight, and extra body fat puts you at risk for brain disorders. Eating walnuts every day could increase melatonin production, which will, in turn, minimize insomnia and restlessness symptoms. Four to five walnuts right before bed might send you off to dreamland effortlessly.
Superfood #2: Blueberries
According to Scientific America: “Your Brain on Blueberries,” Mary Franz, writes, “…emerging research suggests that compounds in blueberries known as flavonoids may improve memory, learning and general cognitive function, including reasoning skills, decision making, verbal comprehension, and numerical ability. In addition, studies comparing dietary habits with cognitive function in adults hint that consuming flavonoids may help slow the decline in a mental facility that is often seen with aging and might even provide protection against disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. “
Please peruse our smoothie recipe section and boost your memory with a Creamy Berry Basil Smoothie or our Purple Power Smoothie containing blueberries. Or eat organic blueberries alone and enjoy their rich flavor.
Superfood #3: Pomegranates
Because pomegranates are so high in polyphenols (anti-inflammatory molecules that protect the brain and nervous system), studies revealed that taking 8 oz of pomegranate juice daily increases memory and cognition. “Punica granatum protects against oxidative stress in PC12 cells and oxidative stress induced Alzhimer’s symptoms in mice” J Med Food.: “Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med
Pomegranates also were proven to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
It is fall season, and the pomegranates are now abundant. As you break open this delectable fruit, know that your brain appreciates those juicy seeds.
Superfood #4: Avocados
According to Kansas State University, the unsaturated fat in avocados can keep brain cells more flexible, increasing our brain’s potential for optimal cognition.
Another study published in “The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology” (Oct 2012) discovered that the fatty acids in avocado, particularly the monounsaturated fats, were astrocyte protective. Astrocytes are nerve cells in the brain that carry information.
We all love avocados; this is even more reason to include it weekly in our meals. We particularly like smoothie recipes that contain avocado, like this Carrot Cake Shake. Although it seems a bit odd to put avocado into a shake, besides making the shake smooth and creamy, it is a brilliant way to start your day with increased brainpower.
Superfood #5: Curry
Curry contains turmeric, which has an abundant amount of “curcumin,”: a very potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory molecule. In fact, curcumin has been touted as an anti-oxidant with cancer-protective properties. But what can curcumin do for our brains?
An inordinate amount of build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain is one of the precipitators of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Studies have revealed that curcumin can potentially stop the build-up of beta-amyloid and other destructive plaques. But even more exciting is its potential to increase the production of new brain cells. Curcumin also increases memory.
We suggest regularly including organic curry powder in your meals and/or taking a Turmeric supplement with a high amount of curcumin like this C3 Curcumin Complex. Try a bowl of this good-fat-packed Curried Carrot Soup for a brain boost tonight.
Our brains need major attention daily. So baby boomers and others with concerns about dementia or Alzheimer’s in the family, let’s feed our brains these delicious foods and watch as we become sharper and more productive. Here’s to great health and great food!
- Why Your Brain Quits Working
- The Ketogenic Diet: An Answer for More than Weight Loss Resistance
- The Ketogenic Diet Part Two: Troubleshooting
- R4: Reduce Cellular Inflammation
- Creamy Berry Basil Smoothie
- Purple Power Smoothie
- Carrot Cake Shake
- Curried Carrot Soup
Brain Support Supplements: