Eating the right “brain stimulating foods” can significantly reduce your risk of developing neurological problems, improve your mental health, and help you stay focused and focused.
As a nutrition psychiatrist, a large part of my work involves advising patients, particularly those who want to improve their brain health or are trying to recover from trauma, about the foods they should incorporate into their daily diet.
And there are so many options, from green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale to walnuts like almonds and walnuts. But through my years of research, I’ve found that one is the most beneficial when it comes to helping your brain age well: blueberries.
The brain benefits of blueberries
I suggest adding 1/2 to a cup per day. Frozen blueberries are just as good as long as they don’t have added sugars, juice, or preservatives.
Versatile, accessible and absolutely delicious, that’s why I love to eat blueberries every morning:
1. They are rich in flavonoids
Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which are plant compounds that offer a variety of health benefits. Studies have found that it can reduce the risk of dementia.
People who eat a diet that includes at least half a serving a day of flavonoid-rich foods may have a 20% lower risk of cognitive decline, according to a 2021 study that surveyed 49,493 women with an average age of 48 and 27,842. men with an average age of 51.
2. They are rich in antioxidants.
Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that gives these berries their distinctive color. Anthocyanins support healthy stress tolerance and anti-inflammatories throughout the body, particularly in the brain.
The antioxidant phytonutrients – that is, plant nutrients – found in blueberries also suppress inflammation in the body and brain and protect cells from damage.
3. They are high in fiber.
I often talk about the deep connection between our gut and our brain – or what I call “gut-brain romance.”
Like antioxidants, fiber reduces inflammation and feeds the “good bacteria” in the gut. Blueberries are high in fiber, which allows them to improve our microbiome health and reduce inflammation in the gut and brain.
4. They contain folate
Folate is an important vitamin that allows neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers within our brains that govern mood and cognition, to function properly.
Where folate deficiency may underlie some neurological conditions, improving folate status has beneficial effects on our mental health, brain health and cognitive age.
How to incorporate blueberries into your diet
I love carrying a small container of blueberries in my bag as a healthy snack for when I’m on the go. But if you want to get creative with your blueberry intake, here are two of my favorite recipes:
Ice Pops with watermelon and blueberry
These simple homemade popsicles are soothing thanks to their fresh and slightly sweet taste. Watermelons are also packed with antioxidants and vitamins A, B, and C. These treats can be made with almond milk for a creamier texture or coconut milk for added flavor.
Portions: 6 to 8 pops
Preparation time: 10 minutes
- 2 cups seedless and chopped watermelon
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon of lime zest
- 1/4 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
- Blend the watermelon with the milk, if used, in a blender.
- Combine the lime juice, lime zest and honey.
- Pour into stainless steel popsicle molds until each is two-thirds full, leaving room for the blueberries.
Chia Pudding Topped With Nuts And Blueberries
Chia pudding is a great way to start the day and requires no morning preparation. Since it has to be stored in the fridge overnight, you can prepare it the night before.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup organic canned light coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- A handful of blueberries and walnuts
- Pour the coconut milk into a glass jar and combine the honey, vanilla and cinnamon. Sprinkle the chia seeds over it.
- Screw on the lid of the glass jar and shake well so that the seeds mix with the milk.
- Chill overnight in the refrigerator.
- Serve topped with blueberries and walnuts.
Dr. a naidoo is a nutritionist psychiatrist, brain expert and faculty member of Harvard School of Medicine. She is also the director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the author of the best-selling book. “This Is Your Brain On Food: An Indispensable Guide To Amazing Foods That Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and more.” Follow her on Twitter @DrUmaNaidoo.
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