8 Foods that Benefit Your Brain
Everyone's been there: You're stuck at your desk over lunch hour, swamped with work, and you reach for the most convenient bite to eat. In two mindless minutes, you've choked down a Snickers, some pretzels, and a soda. But as you wave sayonara to the hunger pangs, you feel a mental crash coming on.
What you may think is an efficient snack may actually be doing you harm. Beyond being detrimental to your waistline, eating poorly can negatively affect your brainpower. To help you keep your mind in tiptop shape, Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh, registered dietitians and co-owners of C&J Nutrition, have shared their top eight foods to benefit your brain.
Thank god. According to Jarosh, drinking coffee in moderate amounts, like two cups per day, may improve your response time when preforming certain tasks and can also up your concentration. If you're more of a latte lover, fear not: Adding cow's milk or soy milk gives you a protein boost as well.
If you like to snack while you sip, add walnuts to your roster. Clarke deems them rich in healthy fats, including brain-boosting omega-3s. Eat them solo, sprinkle a tablespoon over hot or cold cereal, or mix them with other nuts to make trail mix.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a perfect partner to walnuts — not to mention they're in season. Jarosh says they're an excellent source of zinc, a nutrient vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. All benefits that pumpkin spice lattes, unfortunately, do not provide.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12, and Clarke stresses that omega-3s are important for brain function. Plus, they may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
5. Whole Grains
Carbohydrates are not the enemy, according to Jarosh. They release glucose into the blood slowly instead of rapidly (like refined and processed grains), which helps keep you alert throughout the day instead of having ups and downs. Embrace the carbs, friends.
6. Dark Chocolate
Jarosh and Clarke say that chocolate contains flavanoids, which are antioxidants that can help increase blood flow to the brain. Yes, you can celebrate. Opt for dark chocolate with at least 65 percent cacao to get the most benefits.
This superfood is rich in monounsaturated fat, which helps improve blood flow to your brain, says Clarke. Add avocado to smoothies, salads, sandwiches, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Both Jarosh and Clarke stress that dehydration affects your ability to think clearly and concentrate. The fact is simple: Every system in your body functions best when hydrated. Stay hydrated at work by keeping a reusable bottle of water on your desk at all times.
Bonus Breakfast Recipe: Blueberry Pumpkin Quinoa
Heat 1 cup cooked quinoa with ½ cup milk with until warm. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla extract to taste. Top with 1 cup blueberries and 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds. Add 1 teaspoon brown sugar or maple syrup to sweeten, if desired. Kick the day's ass!