Our brains are the most unique part of our bodies. They are what control our quirky personalities and allow us to dream up beautiful, brilliant ideas that move the world forward. And they are sooooo great, when we are feeling focused and in the flow zone. But sometimes when we hit that afternoon slump or a foggy daze takes over, our brains feel anything but beautiful and brilliant.
Coming at you today I’ve got my five favorite foods to eat when I am in need of a major brain boost! I reach for these five when I’ve been studying all day and hitting a slump or want to make sure I’m starting my day off on the right foot.
Blueberries are powerful punches of antioxidants that can help reduce oxidative damage associated with aging. (1) In particular for brain health, blueberries show neuroprotective properties related to memory. (2) These tiny berries are also high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and vitamin C. The vitamin C from blueberries aid in the synthesis of serotonin which is vital for regulating mood, sleep, and pain. (3) Some of my favorite ways to enjoy blueberries are topped on oatmeal, in salads, and by the handful!
Oh lion’s mane, what would I do without you. Lion’s mane is a mushroom that actually looks like a full on lion’s mane (hence the name). This medicinal mushroom has been shown to help with the prevention and treatment of cognitive dysfunction and decline. It has also been associated with decreases in depression and anxiety. The healing mushroom has been shown to promote nerve growth factor, a protein in the brain that helps with the development of new neurons. (4) IT’S SO COOL FRIENDS. I put a powdered form in my matcha every morning and it completely jumpstarts my brain. You can check out my go-to recipe in my Healing Mugs ebook. My favorite brands for lion’s mane powders are Om Mushrooms and Four Sigmatic.
Walnuts boast the best omega-3 profile of any nut, you go walnuts you go girl. Omega-3s help make walnuts an amazing anti-inflammatory food which we love for brain health because inflammation makes us feel foggy and unfocused. In addition to its impressive fat content, these yummy nuts contain important minerals and a more bioavailable form of vitamin B6. (5,6) Walnuts make a good snack at school or work because they have been shown to have cognitive benefits, specifically in improving verbal reasoning skills. (2) They boost main neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and GABA. (5) What I find super cool (ok, nerd cool) about walnuts is that they even look like brains!
Okay, hear me out on the rabbit food. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. (7) I mean, WOW. Dark leafy greens in general are where your vitamins and minerals are truly at. Your vitamin and mineral levels are extremely important because they can start to wreck havoc on your health when they are out of balance. For example a magnesium deficiency can cause anxious feelings and a decreased tolerance to high stress. Under high stress (such as test anxiety or a big presentation at work) the body requires more magnesium to maintain its normal functions. (3) Kale helps boost serotonin, GABA, and norepinephrine. (5) Give your kale a good olive oil and sea salt massage and I promise you will start craving this bitter green in no time.
Rosemary is a woody herb with powerful antioxidant properties. It’s actually a member of the mint family and has long been studied for its ability to improve attention and focus. The polyphenols in rosemary help to decrease inflammation by reducing nitric oxide production. (8) Rosemary provides protection against neurodegenerative diseases, making it an important herb to keep in your spice cabinet. I love roasting veggies with garlic and rosemary and will commonly put rosemary essential oil in my diffuser when I’m needing some extra inspiration.
Brain Boost Snack Mix
Gluten free, Grain free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Vegan
Makes: 2 cups snack mix
- 2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
- 2 C walnuts
- 3 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 C blueberries
- 2 tsp coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line sheet tray with parchment paper.
- Melt ghee or coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add in walnuts, rosemary, maple syrup, and sea salt and stir until well combined.
- Transfer nut mixture to parchment lined tray and put in preheated oven.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes stirring every 10 minutes to ensure walnuts do nut burn.
- Remove from oven and fully cool. Add blueberries and coconut flakes and mix until well combined.
- Enjoy your delicious brain food snack!
Want to learn more about how to support your brain health and mood with food? I’m launching my ebook in Spring 2019 allllll about foods for calm, focus, grounding, and joy. Sign up below to get exclusive updates!
1. Blueberry Monograph. https://naturalmedicines-therapeuticresearchcom.nunm.idm.oclc.org/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1013. Accessed June 18, 2018.
2. Sokolov AN, Pavlova MA, Klosterhalfen S, Enck P. Chocolate and the brain: Neurobiological impact of cocoa flavanols on cognition and behavior. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013;37(10):2445-2453. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.06.013
3. Gaby A. Nutritional Medicine. Second. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing; 2017.
4. Khan MA, Tania M, Liu R, Rahman MM. Hericium erinaceus: an edible mushroom with medicinal values. J Complement Integr Med. 2013;10(1). doi:10.1515/jcim-2013-0001
5. Babb M. Anti-Inflammatory Eating for a Happy, Healthy Brain. Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books; 2016.
6. Walnuts. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=99. Accessed June 18, 2018.
7. Kale Monograph. https://naturalmedicines-therapeuticresearch-com.nunm.idm.oclc.org/databases/food-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1484. Accessed June 18, 2018.
8. Peng C-H, Su J-D, Chyau C-C, et al. Supercritical Fluid Extracts of Rosemary Leaves Exhibit Potential Anti-Inflammation and Anti-Tumor Effects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007;71(9):2223-2232. doi:10.1271/bbb.70199
What is your favorite food for a brain boost? Hope you have the best week, my friends!