Brain food refers to different foods that help boost the production or contribute to the overall health of the brain. Brain food can be split into four categories, all of which prove essential in maintaining a healthy brain. The brain food categories are fats, proteins, carbohydrates and antioxidants.
Not every food that fits in the above list is considered optimum brain food. Instead specific types of the above are most likely to be beneficial to the brain when consumed. Fats that contribute to brain health, for example, generally refer to Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered brain food because they perform two important functions in the brain. They maintain mood balance, and they assist in retaining memory. These foods include eggs, fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and flax. Canola oil and soy oil are also good choices for foods containing Omega-3. Other types of fats like vegetable oils tend to be high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Research suggests that too much Omega-6 may be detrimental to brain health and may cause depression.
Food derived from protein affects the neurotransmitters of the brain. Eggs and fish are both excellent protein sources because they both contain Omega-3. Another good choice is any product made from dairy. Beans are also excellent and serve as both carbohydrates and protein.
Carbohydrates provide energy, and one of the worst choices for the brain is forgoing meals. Skipping a meal can actually make one less sharp mentally, affect ability to concentrate, and make one feel tired physically. Not all carbohydrates are considered equally good for the brain. The best appear to be starchy carbs like potatoes, winter squash, corn, beets, and cooked carrots. Starchy carbs tend to regulate the body’s glucose levels and provide energy without sugar crashes.
Antioxidant brain food has been shown to help sustain memory and to keep people smarter for longer. Antioxidants are also excellent for their anti-aging and cancer fighting properties. Most fruits and vegetables contain some anti-oxidants but some contain more than others. Leafy green vegetables, and berries are some of the best. Most experts recommend eating a variety of vegetables, in season, to get the most benefit from antioxidants.
In all, eating a diet rich in food that is beneficial to the brain can make for varied and interesting meals. Such a diet is also considered by nutritionists to be near optimum in terms of maintaining healthy weight. Thus what is good for the brain benefits the rest of the body as well.