This Is What The Perfect Day Of Eating For Brain Health Looks Like
We don’t like to play favorites. But as far as organs go, the brain is number one in our book. We’ve pored over ways to enhance its power: simple tricks; workout plans; top foods you definitely shouldn’t eat for its health. So it was only a matter of time before we came up with a daily brain-boosting meal plan.
Behold: A science-backed menu to clear away your brain fog and get your noodle working at full capacity.
Eat:Steel-cut oats with blueberries, strawberries, and a dash of cinnamon. Cup of coffee.
The whole-grain foundation of this morning meal is based on the MIND diet, shown to reduce Alzheimer’s risk by up to 53%. (The diet calls for at least three servings of whole grains a day.)
Topping those great grains with blueberries and strawberries adds extra oomph to this breakfast’s brain benefits: According to a study in theAnnals of Neurology, the flavanols found in berries significantly slow cognitive decline. Adding a sprinkle of cinnamon not only perks up your senses, but also boosts your memory, according to research from Wheeling Jesuit University. Last but not least: coffee. Research inThe Journal of Nutritionfinds caffeine intake (paired with a healthy diet) benefits cognition and may also slow age-related declines in memory and attention span.
MORE: 25 Delectable Detox Smoothies
Eat:Quinoa salad with your choice of beans and greens.
The opportunities are endless with this simple template. If you’re in need of inspiration, our favorite is this Whole Grain Tabbouleh Salad with chickpeas and spinach. The quinoa in here counts as your second whole grain for the day (go you!). Beans are also part of the MIND diet, with a recommended three servings per week.
But the real stars of the show here are the greens. Researchers from Rush University Medical Center found that adding more leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.) to your diet helps slow cognitive decline. Study participants who ate one to two servings of greens each day had the brains of people 11 years younger.
Eat:A handful of nuts
They’re great for your gut, your mood, and your ticker. And a recent review inThe American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound people who eat lots of nuts have brains five to eight years younger than those who don’t. The nut-eaters’ memories were also sharper. The same review found people who consumed roughly two ounces of walnuts each day for six weeks showed a significant increase in verbal reasoning skills, compared to those who didn’t eat walnuts. While a couple ounces are awesome, you want to shoot for at least 10 grams of nuts a day. (See what 10 grams equates to here).
MORE: 12 Foods That Lower Cholesterol Naturally
Eat:Stir-fry with brown rice and veggies. Fish or poultry, either with the stir-fry or on the side. A glass of wine.
Brown rice counts as your third serving of whole grains for the day (you did it!). The addition of fish or poultry is another pointer from the MIND diet. (Fish is packed with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which has been shown to reduce your risk of developing dementia by 47%.) Pair all that with a serving of veggies, and you’re rocking. Even better: Many stir-fry recipes include fresh ginger. According to research published in the journalEvidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, ginger improves attention span and memory, and enhances overall cognitive processing in middle-aged women.
This Sweet and Tangy Wild Salmon with Onion and Tomatoes fits the bill perfectly if you add some brown rice. Now wash this meal down with some wine. For women, one serving of alcohol a day may slow cognitive decline, according to a study in theNew England Journal of Medicine. (We suggest wine because, when paired with our dessert, it has been shown to boost memory.)
(No time for the gym? These 10-minute workouts will absolutely transform your body. Check out the !)
Eat:One word: chocolate
Researchers from Italy’s University of L’Aquila and Mars, Inc. (yes, the candy company) asked people to drink beverages containing healthy cocoa compounds every day for eight weeks. The cocoa drinkers showed significant improvements in brain functioning. Yes, this sounds slightly fishy coming from a candy company. But like the wine-and-chocolate study above, there’s a lot of research indicating chocolate is good for you.
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