Many patients I speak to state in different ways that they have “brain-drain.” The old noggin is not working like it once did. They desire an improvement in their memory and concentration. Foods that nourish the brain are essential for a brain-boosting effect.
Following are 10 of the top foods and drinks that can improve brain function and even reduce your risk of dementia. I worked with a top-notch holistic chef to create formulas to incorporate these superfoods into tasty and healthy recipes.
To optimally boost brain function, you must consume these foods regularly and restrict unhealthy foods such as refined carbohydrates, excess alcohol, and trans fats.
Blueberries: Want to delay the aging of your brain by two-and-a-half years? According to a recent study, eating blueberries might do the trick. Plus, fiber- and vitamin C-rich blueberries have among the highest antioxidant concentrations of any fruit. Try them in oatmeal, smoothies, or whole-grain pancakes.
Coffee: Might a cup of coffee a day keep the neurologist away? Possibly. So, feel free to swallow any guilt or concern about your coffee habit. Just try to drink your antioxidant-rich joe sans sweeteners. To reduce bitterness, opt for light-roast beans, and stir in unsweetened vanilla plant milk or skim milk. Tea is also a wise choice; consider matcha, a powdered Japanese green tea with a very high concentration of antioxidants. In any case, choose organic products.
Avocados: These social media stars boast (health-promoting) monounsaturated fat, along with vitamin E and fiber. In addition to avocado toast and guacamole, use in place of mayonnaise in dips and tuna salad.
Walnuts: With omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamin E, walnuts are delicious and For the most flavor and aroma, toast lightly (set the timer, as nuts can burn quickly). Try sprinkling atop oatmeal, fresh fruit, and salads. For alternatives, go with flaxseeds and chia seeds.
Beans: Generous in protein, fiber, and B vitamins; beans satiate and stabilize blood sugar. For the perfect texture, soak overnight and cook the following day. Still, nothing beats canned for convenience. If you can opt for BPA-free packaging. Before using, rinse in a strainer to remove excess salts. Try incorporating cooked (mild) white beans in smoothies and quick breads (even brownies!).
Quinoa: Technically a seed, quinoa is a fiber-rich complete protein with all nine essential amino acids. Plus, it takes only 15 minutes to cook! To avoid the bitter taste of its natural coating, rinse before simmering (use a fine strainer). If you’re still not won over, try whole grains, such as brown rice, farro, or barley, instead.
Salmon with walnut gremolata
Gremolata is a raw Italian condiment consisting of lemon zest, parsley, and garlic. Here, we add walnuts for brain-boosting nutrients. To expedite the preparation, zest the lemon before juicing.
Olive oil cooking spray
3 small garlic cloves
½ cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup raw walnuts
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp fresh lemon zest
¼ tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb. salmon fillet (pin bones removed)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with foil; grease foil with cooking spray (or olive oil). Add garlic to a food processor, and process until minced, about 10 seconds. Add parsley, walnuts, oil, juice, zest, salt, and pepper, and pulse about 20 times—scraping down the sides of the bowl—until the mixture achieves a pesto-like consistency.
Pat salmon dry and place on greased foil, skin side down. Brush flesh with mustard, then coat evenly with the parsley-walnut mixture. Roast until opaque and flaky, 12-15 minutes.
Cut salmon into two portions. Carefully slide a knife under the flesh to separate it from the skin. With a spatula, transfer the skinned fillet portions to two plates, and serve.
Nutrition facts per serving: Calories: 596. Protein: 49 g. Fat: 43 g. Sodium: 298 mg.
Fiber: 1.5 g.
Lime spinach with pomegranates
Serves 2 (Makes 1 cup)
In this colorful side dish, both spinach and pomegranate seeds offer health benefits. When prepping the spinach, be sure to trim any tough stems and to wash the greens very well until the water runs clear. For convenience, purchase pomegranate seeds (arils) in the refrigerated portion of the produce section.
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP thinly-sliced green onion
2 tsp minced jalapeno
2 tsp minced garlic
3-1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves
¼ tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp fresh lime zest
2 TBSP pomegranate seeds
Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion, jalapeno, and garlic, and saute until softened, about four minutes.
Add spinach, salt, and pepper, and saute until wilted, about two minutes. Stir in zest.
With tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl to drain the spinach. Once drained, divide between two plates, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.
Nutrition facts per serving: Calories: 59. Protein: 1 g. Fat: 4 g. Sodium: 240 mg. Carbs: 4 g. Fiber: 1 g. Sugar: 1 g.
Chickpea, mango, & avocado salad
Boasting beans, vegetables, and fruits (including avocado), this entrée salad is a feast for the palate—and brain! Look for cooked chickpeas in BPA-free packaging.