5 Foods that Boost Your Brainpower

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

Did you know that what you eat can have an impact on your memory? Here’s some food for thought: In a 2012 study published in the journal Annals of Neurology, women who ate the most saturated fats from foods like red meat and butter performed worse on tests focused on cognition and memory than those who ate the lowest amounts of these fats, suggesting that avoiding these foods might be a good move for your mind.

So what you eat could contribute to a clouded memory. But there are foods that may boost brainpower. Although further research is warranted, experts have proposed that eating a healthy diet may be linked to a lower risk of memory and thinking loss, and reduced rates of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment—a stage of memory loss that is often a precursor to dementia. So what constitutes a healthy diet? In many related studies, a healthy diet was defined by lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts and fish, moderate alcohol use and minimal red meat consumption. Check out these five foods considered part of a healthy diet that aren’t just good for your body, they’re good for your mind as well!

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Naturally low in fat, sodium and calories, these flavorful little gems also provide all kinds of nutrients your body needs like potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate. Berries―and their counterpart, cherries―also include flavonoids that may support memory and cognitive function. Opt for dark berries, like blackberries and blueberries, as these are a rich source of antioxidant flavonoids like anthocyanins. Enjoy snacking on berries throughout your day, or try adding berries to your yogurt, oatmeal or cottage cheese to reap the recall benefits. On Nutrisystem, one cup of berries counts as one SmartCarb.

Fatty fish
Fatty fish like salmon, herring and bluefin tuna are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are abundant in the brain, and research suggests that they may be important for cognitive function. In fact, in a study published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, subjects supplementing with one type of omega-3 fatty acid demonstrated the learning and memory skills of someone roughly three years younger. To fill up on essential fatty acids, try replacing meat or poultry with fatty fish a few times a week. On Nutrisystem, 2 ounces of fatty fish counts as one PowerFuel. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try noshing on seafood or algae as these also contain fabulous fatty acids. Vegetarian? Try walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds or soy beans, or opt for omega-3 fortified eggs, juice, milk or yogurt.

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As if you needed another reason to eat your veggies: they may help bump up brainpower. Preliminary research suggests that consuming vegetables rich in vitamin C and folate (think spinach and broccoli) could slow cognitive decline. Plus, veggies may help improve the health of blood vessels, reducing the risk for a memory-damaging stroke. Make sure you’re eating at least four servings of non-starchy veggies daily and don’t skimp on the dark leafy greens. Enjoy crunching on raw vegetables, or toss all your favorites in a tasty stir-fry. On Nutrisystem, one cup raw or a half cup cooked veggies counts as one serving.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, researchers found that people who ate more walnuts far outperformed their counterparts on a series of six cognitive tests. Although the mechanism is not well understood, experts point to the numerous active ingredients in walnuts that may contribute to protecting cognitive functions― like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Try snacking on walnuts between meals, or add them to salads or stir-fries for a flavor and nutrient boost. On Nutrisystem? Two tablespoons of walnuts counts as one PowerFuel.

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Dark chocolate
We doubt you’ll forget this one! The cocoa in chocolate is packed with flavanols, naturally occurring compounds that have antioxidant-like properties. Experts suggests that these compounds may serve up a pretty sweet defense against cognitive decline. Research in the American Heart Association’s Hypertension journal demonstrated that elderly people who drank a lot of powdered cocoa drinks had significantly higher overall cognitive scores than those drinking lower levels. If you’re on Nutrisystem, a half ounce of dark chocolate counts as two Extras. Not enough to calm that chocolate craving? Try sprinkling raw cocoa powder on fruit and freezing (think bananas or strawberries), or add it to your oatmeal or vanilla yogurt. Just check the calorie counts to determine whether your cocoa choice counts as an Extra or a Free Food.

Craving dark chocolate? Learn more about the body-boosting benefits of this sweet indulgence.