In our hectic lives filled with constant stimulation and information overload, taking care of our mental well-being often takes a back seat. What is good for our brain is also good for our whole body. Our brains benefit immensely from a diet rich in specific nutrients that support cognitive function and overall brain health.

The Power of Nutrition for Brain Health

Research increasingly shows that what we eat directly impacts our brain's ability to function optimally. Certain foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids that promote neuron growth, protect against neurodegenerative diseases, and enhance cognitive function.

Here’s a look at some of the top food categories to incorporate into your diet to nourish your mind:

1. Fish and Seafood

Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA. These essential fats are crucial for brain health, as they contribute to building brain cell membranes, reducing inflammation, and promoting new brain cell formation. Regular consumption of fatty fish has been linked to improved memory and cognitive function. In addition, fish and seafood contribute important sources of iron, selenium, vitamins A, B1, B12 and zinc.            

Tip: when opening up a can of sardines, squeeze half of a lime onto to it to remove the smell – then proceed with making a spread for crackers or a sandwich

2. Berries

Berries are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that have been shown to accumulate in the brain and help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, which can contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Berries are also packed with vitamins and fibre, making them a delicious and nutritious addition to any diet aiming to support brain health. Although berries are highlighted here, don’t forget that all fruits and vegetables are important for our brain health.

Tip: When fresh berries are priced right – choose them – but feel good about using frozen berries when they are not!

3. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and a variety of carotenoids. These nutrients help slow cognitive decline and support overall brain function. Incorporating a variety of leafy greens into your meals provides essential nutrients that contribute to optimal brain health.

Tip: Check out this ultimate guide to leafy greens - (scroll down to find it) 

4. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fibre, magnesium, potassium, selenium, B1, B6 E and zinc!  They are also rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and amino acids that support brain health.

Tip: Mix up a jar of nuts and seeds and keep in your fridge for an easy nutrient boost to your yogurt or morning smoothie!  I keep a jar of ground flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts in my fridge. 

5. Whole Grains

Whole grains such as oats, quinoa, barley, wheat berries, farro and brown rice provide a steady supply of energy to the brain. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre, and B vitamins, folate, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Choosing whole grains over refined grains ensures your brain receives nutrients essential for optimal performance.

Tip: Look for a multi-grain sprouted whole grain bread that provides a number of different grains you might not normally have or cook on their own! Easy peasy. I like SilverHills bakery sprouted whole grain breads.

6. Legumes  

Legumes include all sorts of dried beans, peas and lentils. They contribute many nutrients like: fibre, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin B1 and many phytonutrients that contribute to support our mental health.

Tip: Try making some roasted chickpeas with a can for your next salad!

Other food such as meats, fermented dairy, eggs, extra-virgin olive oil, coffee, teas, dark chocolate also support cognitive function.  Swapping out ultra-processed foods for whole foods is a first great step to better health and overall mental well-being.

Check out the resource linked below for more tips and recipes for a healthy brain!

Incorporating these brain-boosting foods into your diet not only supports cognitive function and mental clarity but also contributes to overall well-being. 

Sandra Edwards

Sandra Edwards


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