Quick! Name a food that’s good for your brain. Fish, right? Well, you might be interested to know that foods that are good for your heart are also good for your brain. And what better time to show your brain some love than in March because March 13-19th is Brain Awareness Week.
Researchers have shown that the plant-based Mediterranean-based MINDful diet is best for your brain. The benefits include:
1) Forms healthy blood vessels so that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered.
2) Feeds parts of your brain needed for learning and memory.
3) Protects your brain from inflammation.
4) Encourages new brain cells to grow and form connections.
5) Boosts BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), which is important for the growth and health of nerve cells. Being physically active also boosts BDNF levels in the body.
The key nutrients in the MINDful diet are:
Plant polyphenols – these natural substances act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation e.g. (found in nuts, fruits, vegetables, seeds and spices)
Vitamin E – acts as an antioxidant (found in canola, nuts, seeds and related oils such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds and flaxseeds)
Omega-3 fats – reduces brain inflammation ((best source is fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and trout, but also found in soybeans, flax, and canola oil)
Monounsaturated fats – promotes healthy blood flow (found in avocadoes, olives, canola oil, nuts)
Fibre – keeps your blood sugar levels in check (best sources are lentils, beans, whole grains)
Folate and vitamin B12 – fosters better brain cell communication (folate from dark green vegetables, chickpeas, beans, lentils, enriched pasta and bread; vitamin B12 from animal foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy foods)
Check out these awesome power bowl recipes that will feed your brain.
Eat Well… Zannat Reza, RD
Food/health storyteller (RD). Social entrepreneur. Using superpowers to promote health for happiness. Appears on CTV, CBCNN, Global, The Dish and Toronto Star. Follow Zannat @thrive360ZR