Brain Food: How To Get More Of It In Your Diet This Summer
Every part of our body is controlled by our brain and nerves. When Dr. David Friedman, co-author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction, told this to a group of medical students they had a question: If the brain and nerves control everything in the body, what controls the brain and the nerves? His answer: Food.
As you undoubtedly know, a healthy diet is essential for physical and mental health (including brain health), weight, performance, and mental focus. Yet, living busy lives with multiple commitments, it’s easy for us to skip making a healthy meal and to order out or pick up some packaged food. Of course, we say that we’ll only do it once but it soon becomes a new habit or, perhaps, even a new “treat” that we allow ourselves for working so hard — even though we know it’s not good for our body or state of mind.
The good news is, the summer makes it easy for us to prepare nutritious meals without any cooking. Yes, that means salads, overnight oats, muesli, and other cool meals.
Brain Food doesn’t have to be boring
Okay, I know, most salads are boring. It’s the kind of thing you eat when you’re on a diet and you’d rather be enjoying something else. Maybe you’ve been at a restaurant, wading through a pile of green leaves while gazing longingly at someone else’s steak and fries. Or, perhaps — like many people — you’ve discovered that you can enjoy your salad once you’ve smothered it with high-calorie dressing, full of cheap ingredients, sugar, and filler (but that kinda defeats the point, right?).
To make things a little easier, below you’ll find a list of healthy brain foods and suggestions for incorporating them into tasty, very easy-to-make meals.
Five Brain Foods:
Over the last century, Westerners have eaten less and less Omega-3 fats while increasing our consumption of Omega-6 fats, which is believed to be one cause of inflammation and other health issues.
Some studies have found that, in conjunction with a healthier diet and positive social factors, Omega-3 fatty acid can help prevent depression and even bipolar disorder.
Eggs contain vitamins B2, B5, and B12, as well as selenium, and the mineral choline, essential for brain health.
Although a little more expensive, If you’re going to eat eggs, try to purchase “pasture-raised” eggs. The chickens that lay these eggs live in more natural conditions and aren’t crammed together in unnatural and unsanitary conditions. Pasture-raised eggs are also higher vitamins A and E and in omega-3 fatty acids (which are important for brain health).
These seeds are packed with vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and zinc — all good for brain health. Notably, low zinc levels have reportedly been linked to ADHD in children.
Broccoli and Leafy Greens
Harvard Health Publishing reports that “Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene.” Broccoli also contains sulforaphane compounds which can help repair nerve tissue in the brain.
Blueberries are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. More importantly, perhaps, they also have one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any fruit. Unsurprisingly, these berries appear to aid brain function and to delay cognitive decline.
Simple ways to get more brain food
(1) Simple Salmon Salad:
Mix steamed salmon with chopped cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and brussel sprouts), spinach or kale.
Add crushed walnuts, sunflower seeds, olive oil, Himalayan salt, pepper.
If you’re not going dairy-free you can add a little cheese.
(2) Poached eggs with smoked salmon and steamed broccoli.
Or serve the eggs and salmon over a bed of fresh spinach.
(3) Quick, Brain-Healthy Muesli:
Mix crushed walnuts, pumpkin seeds, organic coconut flakes, blueberries, and chopped apple. Then pour on some organic whole milk or coconut milk.
(4) Overnight Oats:
Fill a jar, to about halfway, with old-fashioned, steel-cut oats. Pour coconut milk or almond milk over the oats. Close the lid and place the jar in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, add crushed walnuts, crushed pumpkin seeds, and blueberries. If you don’t want to add refined sugar or sweeteners, add some chopped apple or a few raisins.
Results may vary from person to person.