Brain Food: 10 Ingredients That Could Make You Smarter

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The quest for enhanced cognitive function is as old as humanity itself. From the ancient Greeks to modern-day biohackers, the allure of boosting brainpower has always been compelling. In our fast-paced, information-saturated world, the ability to think faster, remember more, and maintain concentration is invaluable. 

Fortunately, the key to unlocking some of these cognitive boosts may lie in the very sustenance we consume daily. Together with U2 Tuition, who connect students with Oxbridge educated tutors, here’s a rundown of 10 brain-boosting ingredients that could potentially make you smarter.

Oily Fish: A Sea Of Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are the stars of the brain food universe. Found in abundance in oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines, these essential fats are vital for brain health. They build brain and nerve cells, essential for learning and memory. Omega-3s also offer added benefits for mental health, potentially reducing the incidence of depression and anxiety.

Read: How to grill a whole fish on the BBQ


Blueberries: Berries For Brainpower

These little blue wonders are packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids, which have been linked to improvements in cognitive processes. Studies suggest that blueberries can not only improve memory and cognitive function but may also delay cognitive decline. 

Their protective compounds help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can contribute to brain ageing and neurodegenerative diseases.


Turmeric: The Golden Spice Of Cognition

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, crosses the blood-brain barrier and can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there. It’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has been linked to the following brain benefits: improved memory, easing depression, and the growth of new brain cells. It’s a spice that not only adds flavour to your meals but also cognitive clarity.


Broccoli: A Vegetable For The Mind

Broccoli is high in compounds called glucosinolates. When the body breaks these down, they produce isothiocyanates, which are known to reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. This green veg is also a great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.


Pumpkin Seeds: A Snack For Synapse Support

Pumpkin seeds are rich in many micronutrients that are critical for brain function, including copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Zinc is crucial for nerve signalling, magnesium is essential for learning and memory, copper helps control nerve signals, and iron deficiency is often characterised by brain fog and impaired brain function.

Dark Chocolate: Indulgence With A Cognitive Twist

Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are packed with a few brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants. Flavonoids are thought to enhance memory and also slow down age-related mental decline. Just remember, moderation is key; a square or two of dark chocolate can provide these benefits without adding too much sugar to your diet.

Read: 8 of London’s best chocolate cocktails


Nuts: A Kernel Of Truth For Brain Health

Nuts, especially walnuts, are good sources of protein, healthy fats, and fibre, which can boost heart health. Since heart health is linked to brain health, nuts can be beneficial for your brain too. Walnuts, in particular, are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps lower blood pressure and protects arteries, which is good for both the heart and brain.


Oranges: A Dose of Vitamin C For Cognitive Sharpness

Just one medium orange can provide the daily dose of vitamin C, an essential antioxidant that fights free radicals that can damage brain cells. Moreover, vitamin C supports brain health as you age and may protect against conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.


Eggs: The Whole Egg For Whole Brain Health

Eggs are a rich source of several B vitamins and choline, the latter of which is used to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory. The B vitamins have several roles in brain health, including supporting the nervous system and reducing the level of homocysteine in the blood, which is associated with a higher risk of stroke, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s.

Read: How to cook the IDEAL egg, 5 ways


Green Tea: Brew For The Brain

As well as improving alertness, green tea can benefit the brain by enhancing memory and attention. The key active component, L-theanine, can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.


The Bottom Line

Incorporating these ingredients into your diet can contribute to better brain health and function. However, it’s important to remember that no single food is a silver bullet for cognitive enhancement. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and keeping your brain engaged through learning and social interaction are all crucial for maintaining brain health.

So, the next time you’re at the supermarket, consider adding some of these ‘smart’ foods to your basket. Your brain might just thank you for it with sharper thinking, better memory, and improved mood.

THE IDEAL FOOD TEAM
THE IDEAL FOOD TEAM
Whether you're looking for the ideal restaurant to curb your kimchi cravings, need inspiration for tonight's dinner or are after advice on how to make the creamiest risotto ever, we've got you covered. Our talented team of food obsessed writers and chefs are here satisfy your foodie cravings one article at a time.

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