By: Dr. Masoud Abdar
Your diet impacts you in every way, especially when it comes to your ability to concentrate or study. Certain raw foods provide your brain cells with the replenishment it needs to help you focus. While most people are quick to turn to coffee for a quick fix, it is imperative to note that coffee is not only addicting, but also you build up tolerance to it and its benefits are short lived. Not to mention, coffee has almost no nutritional value, whereas the following eleven super foods provide you with a multitude of health benefits:
Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, aid in slowing cognitive decline. Those who consume enough dark, leafy greens on a weekly basis, demonstrate significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline. In fact, people who have one to two daily servings are found to typically have the cognitive abilities of a person 11 years younger. Research has also found that the vitamin K and folic acid in these vegetables are most likely responsible for keeping the brain healthy and preserving functioning.
Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that may slow cognitive decline and possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps fight inflammation, which has been associated with a decrease in cognitive function. Just be mindful of where your purchased salmon comes from. It’s often better if they are wild caught as opposed to farm raised, which usually farm fish are fed hormones to speed their growth. In addition, be mindful of the mercury content, as with all fish. Moderation is key.
Avocadoes are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and contain monounsaturated fats, which support brain function and healthy blood flow to the brain. Avocados are also high in vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for optimal brain health that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, studies show. Like walnuts, avocados are fatty and contain a lot of calories. This may shock you but the recommended serving is about 1/5 of a regular-sized avocado (or 1 ounce). To prevent a cut avocado from turning brown, saran wrap it tight then place it in a small container with a lid, to prevent air from turning it brown. Another option is to cut it up and freeze it for later or for a smoothie.
Studies found a positive association between walnut consumption and cognitive functioning in adults, including the ability to concentrate. Consuming a handful of walnuts per day can lead to cognitive benefits, regardless of age. Walnuts, in comparison to other nuts, contain the highest-level of antioxidants, which help to promote brain function. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain health and development. Walnuts have relatively high fat and calories, so no more than an ounce per day is needed.
Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin, which has been shown to fight inflammation and improve cognitive brain functions. Blueberries make for the perfect snack since they are low in calories, but high in nutrients such as fiber, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin C. When they aren’t in season, opt for dried or frozen blueberries.
Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that provide energy. Oatmeal—slow-cooked whole oats, not the ready-cook cut kind from a packet—not only makes for a healthy breakfast, it also leaves you feeling full, which is important as hunger can diminish mental focus. For maximum clarity, try a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and blueberries!
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, which have been shown in mice to improve memory and learning deficits that occur as a result of aging and disease. It can also reverse damage in the brain caused by oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant defenses. EVOO is great to use as a healthy alternative to processed salad dressings, plus a touch of fresh lemon/lime juice, salt, and pepper.
Eggs are a good source of protein, are rich in omega-3’s, and contain choline, a vital nutrient for brain development. A high-level intake of choline improves cognitive performance. Eggs also contain vitamin B12, which keeps the brain and nervous system healthy. Eggs are so versatile and can be prepared in so many quick ways, making them an easy diet addition.
The herb peppermint may improve cognitive performance and increase alertness as well as calmness. Enjoy the health benefits by brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea or by simply smelling the herb. Or, add five drops of peppermint essential oil to a warm bath or rub it lightly into your skin.
Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds make for a quick and easy snack while providing proper nutrition to help promote focus and concentration. High in antioxidants and omega-3’s, pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes brain function and helps prevent neurological diseases.
Chocolate, which is a stimulant, can provide you with an energy boost similar to a cup of coffee. Multiple researches show that people who consume real cacao content chocolate are more alert and attentive. Chocolate is also high in antioxidants accounting for many of its health benefits. Just remember to choose dark chocolate over a milk chocolate candy bar often filled with fake, chocolate-tasting sugar.