February 20, 2016
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

6 Brain-Boosting Foods to Munch On

Our brains work overtime every day, juggling work and family time, to-do lists, finances and more. So we can use all the help we can get when it comes to boosting our memory and concentration, especially as we age. Here’s the lowdown on foods that can increase cognitive function and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

These crunchy veggie stalks are rich in the plant compound luteolin, which researchers have discovered can reduce age-related memory loss and brain inflammation. Tasty bonus: Add a bit of natural peanut butter to your celery for a snack that also packs in folate, which has been shown to improve memory.

Olive oil
If you love Greek and Italian cuisine, you’ll be pleased to know that the extra virgin olive oil often commonly found in these diets contains antioxidants that can reduce age-related memory loss and disease-related learning problems. It has also been associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Have a crazy workday ahead and need to concentrate? Then reach for an egg-centric breakfast (and don’t ditch the yolks). Eggs contain choline, which helps with memory and focus. Eggs have received a bad reputation over the years for having large amounts of cholesterol, but recent nutritional guidelines say it’s OK to eat them. Of course, it all depends on your individual dietary needs. Some visiting teachers at Integrative Nutrition think eggs are the “perfect food,” while others believe animal products increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Remember there’s no one-size-fits-all diet and you should always choose the foods that work for you!

Antioxidants in berries not only give them a pretty color, but also protect our brains and help our neurons communicate for better cognitive and motor functions, says this Tufts study. To maximize the effects, eat a rainbow of berries including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries.

woman sitting outside with mug in front of plant

Leafy greens
Getting your greens might be even more important for your brain than eating fruits. According to Neurology, people who ate at least 2.8 servings of veggies a day literally turned back the hands of time—their cognitive function was improved to that of someone five years younger. Researchers think it’s attributed to the high levels of vitamin E in veggies, and green leafy ones pack the strongest punch.

There are definite concerns about mercury levels in fish, but a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that seafood offers mega memory benefits that outweigh the negative effects of mercury. If you want to add more seafood to your diet, choose fish that are responsibly sourced, and be aware of mercury levels in the types of fish you’re consuming. Swordfish, for instance, has much higher mercury levels than salmon. 

What’s your favorite brain-boosting food? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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