felicitycurtain

An informed view of all things food

5 of the best … Brain Foods

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If you’re at uni…. Exams are fast approaching.

If you’re at the strange Uni I’m at…. Exams are next week.

The brain consumes 20% of the energy we take in through food. But far more than just supplying us with energy – and enjoyment – the food we eat has the ability to influence essential cognitive processes.

This theory was tested in a UK prison, in which a double-blind, placebo controlled study showed that offenders who were fed multivitamins, minerals and fatty acids exhibited improved behaviour, with 37% less violent offences committed.  These remarkable results demonstrate how imperative a healthy diet is for the brain.

So with that in mind, here are my 5 of the best foods to make the most of exam time:

1) Salmon: Omega 3 fatty acids are perhaps the most common nutrient associated with brain health, with extensive research indicating it’s consumption is vital for reducing cognitive decline, as well as assisting with mood disorders. If you’ve ever wondered why health professionals bang on about how ‘essential,’ omega 3’s are, it’s because these ‘essential fatty acids’ are not produced by our bodies, and thus must be ingested through food sources.  If you’re not big on salmon, try some walnuts or flaxseed – I add ground flaxseeds to my porridge.

http://www.ifbb.org.uk/data/resources/14/Gesch_et_al_2002_British_Journal_of_Psychiatry.pdf

Fish consumption vs depression.. pretty amazing

2) Beetroot: Recent findings have placed beetroot in the spotlight, with the discovery that consumption of the deeply pigmented vegetable can vasodilate (open up) the blood vessels leading to the brain. Further investigation has shown this increased blood flow is directed at portions of the brain associated with long-term cognitive decline, suggesting beetroot consumption may avoid degeneration that can lead to conditions such as dementia.  If you’re not huge on beets, try disguising some in a vegetable juice.

3) Wholegrains: carbohydrates are our bodies preferred source of energy. Containing important B group vitamins and folate, wholegrain foods ensure a stable energy supply, and exhibit positive effects on memory performance. Choosing low GI alternatives such as grainy breads, brown rice and sweet potato will also avoid a spike in blood sugar.

4) Red meat or alternatives: Iron deficiency anaemia is all too common in women, particularly in those who don’t consume red meat. Iron is an essential mineral that plays a role in transporting oxygen in the blood, so a deficiency means less oxygen will be delivered to cells, resulting in decreased immunity, and extreme fatigue. To avoid this, include lean red meat a couple of times a week, or plant based sources such as legumes and fortified cereals.

5) Green tea: Known for its potent antioxidant properties, green tea is high in naturally occurring plant compounds called flavanoids. Flavanoids have been shown to aid in regeneration of brain cells, as well as reduce their generation. Other sources include blueberries, cocoa and dark chocolate.

Image courtesy of [zirconicusso] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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2 replies

  1. Hi Felicity. You should check out my recipe for Beef and Beetroot Casserole: http://healthystories.com.au/2013/06/beef-and-beetroot-casserole/ It ticks off 3 of the items on your list – red meat, beetroot and wholegrains. In fact I should probably make some more to help me get through my final assignment 🙂

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