Eat Smart: Brain Food
It's September, which means it's back to school time! Even if you're not back to school yourself, it's a good time of year to take a fresh look at your diet and see if there are areas that could be improved. One aspect of healthy eating we sometimes forget is taking care of our brain - we can't see it in the mirror, so it's easy to ignore! But whether you're six or sixty, it's something we should all be thinking about.
If you want to eat smart, here are some foods which are good for your brain:
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that our bodies cannot produce on their own, so we need to include it in our diet, and one of the best ways to do that is by eating fish. Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, trout, kippers and sardines have high levels of EPA and DHA which help the brain to function effectively. DHA is a fatty acid linked to the primary structure of the brain and is one of its major building blocks. If you can’t stand fish or if you’re vegetarian, then other sources of Omega-3 include flaxseeds, walnuts, soya, linseeds and sea buckthorn.
It’s not just fish oil that’s important for healthy brain function, many plant-based oils also contain healthy fats. Studies have suggested that long chain fatty acids found in olive, coconut, rapeseed and flaxseed oils can help prevent cognitive deterioration and help reduce the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s - a great reason to include them in your diet.
Dark leafy greens such as broccoli, kale and spinach contain brain-boosting nutrients, including Omega 3 alpha-linolenic acid. This plant-based Omega 3 has been linked with health benefits including reducing the risk of developing depression. Leafy greens (especially kale) are also a great source of essential vitamins and minerals important for brain health, including iron, folate and Vitamin B6.
The slow releasing GI in whole grain food not only stabilizes blood sugar levels and makes us feel fuller for longer, it can also help improve our concentration and brain power. Swapping refined foods for whole grains e.g. oats, wheat bran, brown rice, pasta and bread, will slowly release carbs into your body. This means our brains get a steady supply of energy to keep us alert throughout the day, rather than a sudden rise and fall.
Do you factor-in brain health when planning what to eat? Let me know if this has given you food for thought!
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