10 foods to make you smarter

It is often said that ‘we are what we eat’ and our brain is no exception– the fuel that we put into our bodies as food and drink really can make a difference to how efficiently our brain works. To help maximise your brain function, try to make sure you eat enough of these brain-boosting foods;

Blueberries.

Blueberries are well known for their powerful antioxidant levels which help to prevent oxidative stress in the body and so help reduce age-related diseases. Over time, our bodies are exposed to harmful molecules in the body called free radicals, and antioxidants help reduce the harmful effects of these. This is why fruit and vegetables – rich in antioxidants – are so important in our diet. Try adding a cup of blueberries into a smoothie, yogurt or onto cereal.

Salmon.

Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and contains anti-inflammatory substances that help with blood flow and brain activity, lowering the risks of dementia and stroke, and helping to enhance memory. Try eating this fish two or three times a week, grilled, baked or poached.

Nuts and seeds.

Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E that helps to boost our brain function and are also rich in monounsaturated fats that are heart-healthy. However, do remember that many nuts and seeds can also be high in other fats, so limit the amount you eat to about 250g a day. Avoid salted nuts whenever possible to prevent increasing your blood pressure –   almonds and walnuts are a very good choice.

Whole grains.

Whole grains, found in foods such as whole wheat bread, pasta, cereals, wheat germ and brown rice are good for the circulation because they contain nutrients such as vitamin E, antioxidants, fibre and omega 3 fatty acids that help keep cells in the brain working well.

Beans.

All kinds of beans including black beans, kidney beans and lentils have lots of fibre in them and release energy gradually, helping to stabilize your glucose levels throughout the day and maintain performance of mind and body.

Dark chocolate.

Most people like a little piece of chocolate! The good news is that it not only contains powerful antioxidants but also a small amount of caffeine that can help aid focus and concentration. Dark chocolate also stimulates production of endorphins that help improve mood. It is important to have the best quality chocolate with a very high cocoa content rather than one of the mass-produced types that can be rich in sugar and fat. You don’t need much to get the benefit either – about 10g to 25g  a day will do.

Coffee.

Although not strictly a food, both caffeine and the coffee bean have been shown to have some antioxidant properties. Most of these benefits for boosting brain power come from the caffeine but be careful to limit how much you drink - no more than two or three cups a day of good quality coffee is about right.

Avocados

Avocados in small doses are very healthy all round as they are packed with antioxidants and amino acids (protein) that help lower blood pressure and help reduce inflammation in the body. Eat about one-quarter to one-half of an avocado daily.

Tea.

Freshly brewed green and black tea have powerful antioxidant properties as well as a small amount of caffeine that dilates blood vessels and increases the blood flow to the brain, enhancing memory focus and mood. Again, like coffee, be careful to limit how much you drink - an intake of three to four cups a day is a healthy amount.

Pomegranate juice.

Pomegranate juice is packed full of antioxidants but stick to about 50ml – 75ml of natural fruit juice per serving, since large quantities contain sugar that can cause weight gain. Try adding it to water several times a day or eat the fruit itself - about 250g a day will do.

Remember that the key to boosting your brain power is to ensure it receives a steady supply of energy at all times so eat small meals of healthy foods throughout the day. Not eating through the day and then overeating at night isn’t a healthy, balanced way of eating. Regularly eating brain-boosting foods along with regular exercise, getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night and using meditation and relaxation exercises like yoga or Pilates can all help increase your brain and body health.