There’s no denying that the holidays are an overwhelming time. So, if you want to make sure your head’s not spinning from everything you have to get done, I’ll let you in on a little secret: All you have to do is look for certain foods while you’re at the grocery store to stock your pantry with. I kid you not. There are foods that keep your brain healthy, and no, it’s not just a bunch of different types of salads and other stuff that tastes like grass. These foods are actually pretty tasty, if you ask me.
And BTW, when I say these foods keep your brain healthy, Isabel Butler, company nutritionist at Spoon Guru, points out that you can think about your brain in this context in a couple of different ways. "When people talk about brain health, there are two aspects to this — one being making sure your brain functions correctly long-term and immediately, and [the other being] your mindset," Butler tells Elite Daily over email. "Food can play a massive part in both of these."
According to Butler, starting with brain functionality, there are several different minerals and vitamins that can all play a part in boosting your brain function. "Omega 3 is often thought of as the main nutrient," she tells me. "However, vitamins, including B and K, and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and magnesium, along with antioxidants, all have an effect on brain function."
While these nutrients can affect your brain over a long period of time, Butler says certain foods can also have just as big an effect on the way your noggin works in real time. "Research has shown that having a meal which rapidly raises blood sugar can significantly increase stress hormones," she explains. "This can impact things like memory in as little as an hour." Wild, right? And really, that’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to keep up with the whirlwind of responsibilities that come with the holidays.
The best solution to this, according to Butler, is eating foods that are both slower to digest, and that raise blood sugar in a more controlled, balanced way. "This would mean including a variety of healthy fats, protein, and some fiber," she tells me. "For example, scrambled eggs or baked beans with wholemeal toast and an avocado on the side." Uh, yum.
No matter what tasty meal you’re whipping up to fuel your daunting holiday to-do list, here are seven foods you can add to your grocery list to stay focused, in the zone, and keep your brain in tip-top shape.
For long-term brain function, Butler says, vitamins B and E can help with mental decline, while vitamin K is good for memory. "Eating plenty of vegetables (such as mushrooms and broccoli), can do wonders for your brain function," she explains.
Zinc, magnesium, and iron are also important for your brain health, says Butler. "Zinc and magnesium deficiency has been linked to neurological conditions, and a lack of iron can cause brain fog," she explains.
The good news? Seeds have plenty of these minerals, and adding them to your granola or yogurt is a great way to include them in your diet, according to Butler.
Coffee and Tea
Did you just shed a tear of happiness when you read that coffee is good for your brain? No? Just me? OK.
"Studies have shown that flavonoids promote memory and learning, which are found rich in onions, green and black teas, and black coffee," Butler tells Elite Daily.
Fire up that Keurig, fam, and don’t you dare hold back.
Want to maintain a healthy mindset during the holidays? Add any sort of shellfish to your meals, says Butler. "Mindset links to brain function, as a lack of zinc has been linked to depression," she explains. "Zinc is easily found in shellfish, legumes, and nuts."
According to Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, antioxidant-rich foods are the way to go for sustainable brain power. "Antioxidants can prevent or delay cell damage in the brain," she tells Elite Daily over email. "They also decrease inflammation and improve communication between brain cells, which boosts learning and motor skills."
Berries — blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, all that good stuff — contain large amounts of these healthy antioxidants, says Derocha.
Nuts and Eggs
"Nuts and eggs are excellent foods for your brain, as they contain a combination of vitamins and omega 3," Butler explains.
Plus, according to Derocha, the healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E found in nuts make them good for heart health, which is directly linked to brain health.
Taking care of your brain can also mean treating yourself, and I’m so here for that. "Dark chocolate has been shown to decrease stress and increase blood flow to the brain, which boosts memory and attention span," Derocha says.
There’s just one tiny catch: Derocha recommends looking for dark chocolate that’s made up of at least 70 percent cacao to reap the best, most chocolatey benefits for your brain.
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