By Soriyya Bawa
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Many of us spend a lot of time focusing on our physical health, but we may not take the time to give our mental health the attention it deserves. Staying sharp mentally is just as important, as it can affect everything from your memory to being able to perform at your job. Being able to think clearly is an essential part of everyday life, both professionally and personally.
One easy way to stay sharp and maintain your mental health as you get older is by adding more antioxidant-rich brain foods to your diet. Here are some of the best anti-aging food choices you should be eating more of — and some of them may surprise you!
Foods to Stay Sharp After 40
Anti-aging foods that are rich in selenium are an excellent source of antioxidants, which make them perfect brain foods. Low levels of selenium in the body have been linked to memory loss, bad moods, anxiety, and decreased cognitive function. Selenium-rich brain foods include whole grain bread, tuna, button mushrooms, and Brazil nuts.
2. Tomatoes and Blueberries
Fruits and vegetables such as blueberries and tomatoes are brain foods because they’re an excellent source of antioxidants that protect mental health. Blueberries have been shown to help improve memory, while the antioxidant in tomatoes, lycopene, helps protect against free radical damage to your brain cells—free radical damage has been seen in dementia patients.
If you’re a chocolate fan, you’re in luck because, believe it or not, dark chocolate is a newfound brain food. It’s been shown to increase blood flow in the brain, thanks in part to the antioxidants and caffeine in it. Eating dark chocolate is also believed to stimulate the pleasure center of your brain, which can boost mood and improve mental performance. Click here to read about more anti-aging benefits of chocolate. But before you dig into your secret stash, keep in mind that chocolate is still high in calories, so only eat it in moderation.
Pregnant women are often advised to take fish oil supplements, and with good reason; fish oil is rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids that aid in the development of babies’ and newborns’ brain development. Imagine what it can do for adults. Any food that’s high in omega-3 is a brain food because they improve the flow of blood and help to maintain electrical impulses in your brain, which is what sustains mental health. The best omega-3-rich brain foods include flax seed, walnuts, salmon, and sardines. You can also find fish oil and omega-3 anti-aging supplements at most health stores.
While many of us try to cut back on the amount of coffee we drink, consuming caffeine in moderation can actually be beneficial for your mental health because it’s rich in antioxidants that can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes. However, for it to really work as brain food, you should drink your coffee black, with no cream, milk, sugar, or artificial sweeteners. Click here to read more about the anti-aging benefits of coffee.
When cartoon character Popeye gained super strength after eating spinach, he had the right idea. Spinach is a brain food because it’s an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, which help to maintain electrical conductivity in the brain. It’s also rich in vitamins B6, E, and folate, which are all essential for maintaining cognitive function as you get older.
7. Vitamin B
Meat eaters, rejoice! Pork, turkey, and lamb are all great brain foods because they’re excellent sources of vitamin B, which is essential for keeping the neurotransmitters in your brain functioning properly. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can still reap the benefits of vitamin B in brain foods like sunflower seeds, enriched grain products, potatoes, and bananas.
- Lewin, J., “10 foods to boost your brainpower,” BBC Good Food web site; http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-foods-boost-your-brainpower, last accessed December 3, 2013.
- “Omega-3 fatty acids,” The World’s Healthiest Foods web site; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=84, last accessed December 3, 2013.
- Snowder, T., “Why eating chocolate is good for your brain,” KSL web site, April 9, 2013; http://www.ksl.com/?sid=26369327.
- “Spinach,” The World’s Healthiest Foods web site; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43, last accessed December 3, 2013.
- Watson, S., “Benefits of Omega-3,” Discovery Fit & Health web site; http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/facts/benefits-of-omega-33.htm, last accessed December 3, 2013.
About the author:
Soriyya Bawa is a health and wellness expert who is focused on providing natural, realistic strategies for everyday people that are proven to reduce the effects of aging on the body and brain. She brings a wealth of both academic and practical experience, having spent several years writing health and anti-aging advice for an international fashion and lifestyle magazine. Soriyya’s intuitive approach to health, beauty and wellness means she is always on the lookout for the best natural products and treatments that maximize health and slow the physical effects of age.
Connect with Soriyya at SoriyyaBawa.com.