Brain Boosters: Foods That Can Help Improve Your Intelligence, Alertness, Focus, And Memory
When it comes to your brain, there’s always room for improvement. One can never be too smart, too witty, nor full of too many useless facts. Still, all the effort needed to acquire such abilities is rather tiring. If only we could eat a food that would instantly transform us into geniuses. Well, until scientists develop this magic cuisine, here are a few foods that may help out a bit with your brain’s strength.
No one ever started their day wishing that they were less smart. Colleges make billions by promising hopeful 18-year-olds that four years at their institutions will make them more intelligent than the rest of the population. Little do they know that similar results could be achieved by simply consuming…dark chocolate? In a study conducted by Northumbria University in England, students performed better on simple math tests after drinking shakes chock full of cocoa, Fox News reported. It’s not that dark chocolate makes you “smarter” but it does help the knowledge you already have shine through a bit better. The flavonol in dark chocolate boosts the circulatory system, increasing the amount of blood that reaches your brain, according to Fox News. This ultimately increases brain functions which would explain why test scores can improve after a quick chocolaty snack.
When you’re feeling sluggish, you may be tempted to grab a coffee or candy bar for a quick pick me up. Although these foods will give you an instant energy boost, it’s often short lived and the later crash can leave you worse off. Vitamin E filled almonds may offer a more effective alternative. These are the most nutrient filled nuts, according to a 2010 study,Business Insider reported. The vitamin E and magnesium in almonds will keep your brain at top-working capacity without the aforementioned “crash” afterwards. If nuts aren’t your thing, there’s nothing quite like gold old fashioned protein to give your brain a much needed boost to get you through the day. Protein is able to stimulate orexin neurons, the cells in your brain responsible for keeping you awake. All animal by products such as fish, meats, dairy, and eggs are packed with protein.
It happens to the best of us. You get halfway through a perfectly fine work day when suddenly you find you can’t seem to focus on anything for longer than a few minutes. Maybe next time you should put down the coffee and try reaching for a berry snack instead. Studies have shown that blueberries in particular are able to increase “concentration and memory” for up to five hours. This is due to the large amount of antioxidants they contain. These powerful nutrients are able to stimulate the blood of blood and oxygen to your brain which results in sharper focus, no caffeine needed. The fact that they are able to fight cancer as well doesn’t hurt either.
Who doesn’t want better memory? Studies suggest that eating cold water fatty fish, such as salmon not only helps you to improve memory retention, but can also protect you for degenerative mental disease such as dementia. That is because they contain high levels of essential fatty acids called DHA. According to the BBC, tomatoes can help protect memory loss due to free radical damage to cells, you know just in case you needed a reason to have that second serving of pasta.
40 Quick Healthy Snacks
- Trail mix: Mix dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and a handful of real dark chocolate chips
- Fresh fruit: Whatever deliciousness is in season – our selection this week is apples, oranges, and strawberries
- Dried Fruit: Raisins, dried berries, dried apple slices
- Salad: If your veggies are pre-washed you can put this together very quickly. As well, salad can be preassembled. Simply add protein and dressing at serving time.
- Veggies: carrots, radishes, sugar snap peas, celery, peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes
- Steamed veggies: Top them with cheese or chopped hard-boiled eggs
- Eggs: Nature’s fastest protein – boil, scramble, poach or fry – eggs make a great topper for other “fast foods”
- Yogurt Parfait: Top your homemade yogurt with fruit and granola
- Cheese: Opt for a healthy version without additives and artificial colors
- Smoothies: Throw fruits, veggies, yogurt and your milk of choice into the blender. Add a little pure vanilla and some honey. We like to freeze fruit for this purpose to make a rich thick shake.
- Homemade granola cookies
- No-bake haystack cookies
- Hummus: Serve the dip with veggie sticks, homemade crackers, or tortillas
- Applesauce: Try topping it with homemade granola and vanilla yogurt for a quick no-cook “apple crisp”
- Chocolate Milk
- Apples with natural peanut butter
- Frozen Yogurt Berries: Toss well-washed berries in homemade vanilla yogurt. Place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours for a cold, healthy treat
- Pancakes or Waffles: Top with fruit for a nutrition boost
- Couscous: This speedy grain only requires the addition of boiling water or broth. Let it sit for 5 minutes, covered, and you have an instant hearty side dish. Add some steamed veggies and lean protein to turn it into a one dish meal
- Cottage cheese: Top homemade cottage cheese with fresh fruit
- Home-canned food: Meals like chili, soup, and spaghetti sauce can be pressure canned at home for a delicious healthy “fast food meal”
- Fruit Salad: Top it with nuts and a honey-sweetened yogurt for a protein boost
- Dill Pickles: Home-canned, of course
- Ants-on-a-log: Celery sticks stuffed with natural peanut butter then topped with raisins
- Quick Greek Salad: Chopped cucumber, peppers and cherry tomatoes with feta cheese and vinaigrette
- Homemade Fruitsicles: Puree fruit that is overripe, then freeze it in popsicle forms – strawberry-banana is a favorite combo here
- Savory snack mix: Popcorn and nuts sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spices
- Tzatziki: This yummy Greek garlic and yogurt dip is a satisfying snack with homemade crackers or veggies
- Medjool dates and almonds
- Frozen grapes
- Homemade gazpacho: Puree tomatoes, peppers, onions, jalapenos, and other seasonal veggies. Keep in the fridge and serve cold.
- Quick Banana Nut Cookies: Mash 2 overripe bananas well. Stir in 1 cup of steel-cut oats and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Latte: Make a delicious latte with a homemade creamer
- Mexican Black Bean Salad: (you can use a can of rinsed organic black beans or beans that you cooked yourself previously) 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers, some fresh cilantro, and lemon juice
- Green Apple Salad: Chopped green apple, red grapes, and walnuts sprinkled with a dressing made from honey, lemon juice and cinnamon