Our brain is a kind of big deal. As the remote control of our body, it is responsible for keeping our heart beating, lungs breathing, and letting us feel, move, and think. That is the reason why it is important to keep our brains in good condition. The foods we eat play a significant role in keeping our brain healthy and in improving specific mental tasks, like concentration and memory. This article lists the top 10 healthy foods that will boost your mental health.
Healthy Foods for your Mental Health
- Salmon- Fish, in general, is considered one of the popular healthy foods to include in the diet. Among the various fishes, salmon is considered the best one when it comes to mental health. This is a “fatty fish”, which consists of a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have proved that Omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing mental disorders like depression. It also boosts memory and learning as well.
Salmon also has a high amount of Vitamin D, which is usually added to foods and has been associated with lower rates of depression. Other kinds of fish with high Omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, herring, and tuna.
2. Walnuts- This is one of the best plant sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and several studies have shown how Omega-3 fatty acids are good for brain functioning and reduce depression. A study that was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry had something interesting. The authors ask,” why is the vast part of biological research from genetics to psychopharmacology focused on neurotransmitters when the brain is about 80 percent fat, and there is research showing the important role of lipids in the functioning of the brain?
3. Coffee- If your morning is incomplete without a cup of coffee, then you will be glad to know that it is beneficial for you. Yes, you read it right. Coffee is one of the healthy foods that you must include in your daily diet. The two main components in coffee, i.e., antioxidants and caffeine are great for brain functioning. Caffeine has a lot of positive effects on the brain, including:
A. Increases alertness- Caffeine in coffee keeps the brain alert by blocking the adenosine, a chemical that makes one feel sleepy.
B. Improves mood- Caffeine may also enhance some of your “feel-good” neurotransmitters, like serotonin.
C. Improves concentration- A study revealed that when people drink one large cup of coffee in the morning or drink small amounts of coffee throughout the day, they proved to be more effective at tasks that needed concentration.
D. Drinking coffee is also linked to a reduced risk of nerves-related illnesses, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This could be the result of the antioxidants present in the coffee.
4. Chicken- Turkey is a tasty lean-protein option consisting of the amino acid tryptophan. Although it is mostly associated with post-Thanksgiving naps, most people are not aware of its health benefits.
This is one of those healthy foods that help our body to produce serotonin- which plays an important role in helping your brain to manage your mood, fight against depression, and helps in maintaining strong memory power.
5. Avocado- Another one on the list of healthy foods to boost mental health is Avocado. If possible, eat a whole avocado every day. They are power foods, as they contain healthy fat that the brain requires to function smoothly.
Three-fourths of the calories in an avocado are from fat, usually monosaturated fat, as oleic acid. An average avocado consists of 4 grams of protein, which is much more than any other fruit.
This fruit is filled with Vitamin K, different types of Vitamin B, Vitamin E12, and Vitamin C. The best thing about this fruit is that it is low in sugar but high in dietary fiber, including nearly 11 grams each.
6. Broccoli- Broccoli is packed with strong plant compounds, including essential antioxidants. If you are looking for healthy foods that can be beneficial for your body without causing any harm, you must include broccoli.
It is also high in Vitamin K, delivering over 100% of the Advised Daily Intake in one cup serving. This vitamin plays an important role in creating sphingolipids, a kind of fat that is packed into the brain cells.
Several studies in older people have associated a higher Vitamin K intake with improved memory. Apart from Vitamin K, broccoli also contains many compounds that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which protect the brain from any kind of damage.
7. Whole Grains- There are large numbers of healthy foods that come under this category, like soy, beans, wild rice, and oats. While our brain and body use carbohydrates for getting energy, most often we consume simple carbohydrates, which lead to a rise in blood sugar.
Foods classified under whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, which leads to glucose being created more slowly, as a more consistent and even source of energy.
Moreover, whole grains help our brain to absorb tryptophan, which means that when they are consumed along with turkey and chicken, they can reduce anxiety and depression while enhancing brain functioning.
8. Spinach- Green leafy vegetables and spinach are other ones included in the list of healthy foods. They offer a huge amount of folic acid, which has proved to be a great element for fighting symptoms of depression. Spinach also helps in fighting against insomnia, which is associated with mental impairments and can help lessen dementia in old people.
9. Beans and lentils- Lentils and beans are rich in Vitamin B and amino acids, known as lysine. These compounds are important for brain functioning. Legumes are generally studied from the perspective of dietary patterns like the Mediterranean diet. A study that included a questionnaire on the amount of legume intake found that older people who ate legumes suffered from less anxiety, depression, and stress, but the same results were not evident among the young population. Though more studies are required to support this result.
10. Tomatoes- The cause of a tomato’s red color, lycopene is categorized as an all-around useful phytonutrient. Among the various benefits of tomatoes, the most important one is it helps in fighting against brain disease. Tomatoes can even delay the beginning and progress of Alzheimer’s disease, fighting against cell damage. Also, lycopene helps in improving concentration, memory, and attention.
11. Oranges- All of us know that Oranges are a great source of Vitamin C. According to health experts, one should eat one orange every day. Doing this is important for enhancing the brain’s health, as vitamin C is an important factor in avoiding mental decline. Eating a considerable amount of foods rich in Vitamin C can keep age-related mental diseases and Alzheimer’s disease at bay.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that helps in fighting against the free radicals that can cause damage in the brain cells. Also, Vitamin C supports the brain as we grow old. Some of the healthy foods that are rich in Vitamin C include strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, kiwi, and guava.
12. Green Tea- Similarly to coffee, the caffeine present in green tea improves brain functioning. Studies have found that green tea improves alertness, focus, memory, and performance. But green tea has various other components that make it a great healthy beverage.
One of the important components, L-theanine, an essential amino acid can work on the blood-brain barrier and improve the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which in turn helps to reduce anxiety and make you relaxed.
The compound also improves the frequency of alpha waves in the brain, which keeps you relaxed without making you feel stressed out. Studies have proved that L-theanine present in Green tea can help you feel relaxed by neutralizing the stimulating effects of caffeine. It is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols that protect the brain from mental illnesses and reduces the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Moreover, green tea has been found to enhance memory power.
13. Dark chocolate- Happy to hear that? Dark chocolate is considered a healthy food because of its cocoa content which is missing in milk chocolates. And you know, the darker, the better. 85% of cocoa or more is right for your health.
Dark chocolate consists of high levels of flavonoids, a kind of antioxidant. It boosts attention and memory power, improves mood, and helps to fight against cognitive decline in old people. Keep in mind, consume chocolate in moderation.
So, the next time you go grocery shopping, buy these healthy foods. Along with offering health benefits, these foods will offer nourishment to your brain too.