Tuesday, November 23, 2010

9 Foods that are good for the brain - including chocolate!

Foods good for the brain include the pictured items: tomatoes, green tea, walnuts, broccoli, and coffee. Photo: Sally Kneidel

Readers, this is a guest post from writer Cindy Cullen. Find more info about Cindy plus her email address at the end of this post. From Cindy:

Mental health is just as important as physical wellbeing; and while aging takes a toll on our bodies; and minds, we can make choices to keep ourselves in prime condition.  Using our minds on challenging tasks can help keep them alert and active.  To augment and enhance this process, we can choose foods that are known to boost brain health at any age.  Below are some of the tastiest and most effective "brain foods"!


It’s uncanny that the walnut nut is shaped so much like the human brain, because it actually does pack a pretty punch in terms of brain power. With its high level of essential fats, protein, B6 and E vitamins, walnuts help in keeping your brain sharp and alert. Other nuts like almonds, hazel nuts and cashews are also good sources of complex carbohydrate energy, if they’re not salted or fried.


If you’re looking for a protein-rich brain snack, get your hands on some flaxseed – it’s high in DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid that is essential for the good health of your brain and nervous system. You could also choose to munch on sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds because they’re rich in Vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, antioxidants, protein, and the good kind of fat.


If you love berries, then your brain is in good hands – go for the brightly colored ones because they’re rich in antioxidants, especially blueberries, blackberries and acai berries. Blueberry extract has been proven to improve short term memory loss and blackberries are rich sources of Vitamin C. Acai berries, while hard to procure, are one of the best sources of antioxidants and are also rich in the essential fatty acids that boost brain health.


Your mornings just got that extra boost – a cup of coffee is a great energizer, not just of the body, but also of the mind. It’s rich in antioxidants, amino acids (the building blocks of protein), vitamins and minerals and has been proven to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses. Just go easy on the sugar and restrict yourself to a few cups a day to avoid weight gain and mood swings.


Now before you go rushing out to buy that sugar-filled bar of chocolate, let me tell you that it’s the cacao in chocolate that’s beneficial to brain health. It has high levels of antioxidants which help protect your brain from free-radical damage. So if you must indulge your sweet tooth, go in for dark chocolate with the least amount of sugar and the most amount of cacao, or better yet, choose a cacao-based drink that’s free of sugar.


Not all fats are bad, as the avocado demonstrates – it’s rich in protein and loaded with healthy fat. An avocado every week is enough to keep your brain healthy for the rest of your life.


These brightly colored, squishy fruits (or vegetable?) are not just delicious, they’re also chock-full of lycopene, a substance that is rich in antioxidants and negates the effects of free radicals on your brain. To get the most out of tomatoes, cook them or eat them as sauces, in addition to including them raw in salads. Or drink them as juices.

Green Tea:

If you’re looking for a hot or warm drink that’s soothing and which protects your brain, look no further than green tea. It’s rich in antioxidants and it’s a great way to refresh your body and mind.


Now there’s a dreaded vegetable; however, before you banish the broccoli from your plate, think of the benefits it has to offer you – vitamins B5, B6, B2, and C, betacarotene, iron, calcium and folate. It’s literally a whole meal by itself, so include it in your salad or eat it half-cooked as a vegetable dish.

So go ahead, give your brain a boost with these foods; when your brain is healthy, your overall wellbeing improves by miles.

This guest post is contributed by Cindy Cullen; she writes on the topic of culinary art colleges. She welcomes your comments by email at cindycullen84@gmail.com. You can also, of course, post comments on this website.

Key words: brain health brain food antioxidants omega 3 fatty acids lycopene tomatoes coffee green tea walnuts broccoli berries avocado chocolate

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