Brainfood is a combination of common food ingredients that are beneficial for brain and cognitive functions. For example, brainfood helps you to keep focused, maintain vitality, boost your memory and protect nerve cells in your brain. In general, food that is good for your brain supports your overall health and well-being. Brainfood ingredients contain vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that are associated with brain health and cognitive and psychological functions. They are also low in saturated fat and salt, because food that is good for the heart is also good for the brain.
Here are some examples of brain-friendly ingredients and nutrients that are associated with brain function and health:
Broccoli is high in folate that is important for normal psychological functions1, e.g. attention, perception and motivation. Try broccoli as a part of your lunch to stay focused in the afternoon.
Oat flakes are a good source of zinc that supports your memory and thinking2. Oats also contain beta-glucan, a viscose fibre that is heart-friendly3. Oatmeal is traditionally thought of as a breakfast, but it is also a good choice for an evening meal since it gives you slow-release energy for night.
Dark chocolate contains magnesium that can prevent tiredness4. Dark chocolate is also high in antioxidative compounds called flavanols. Cocoa flavanols have been associated with better cognitive performance in clinical studies5,6.
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acid DHA that helps your brain function normally7. It is recommended to eat fatty fish at least twice a week.
Strawberries contain plenty of vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects nerve cells in your brain8. Black currant and cloudberry are also good sources of vitamin C. Add berries into your morning porridge or afternoon snack yoghurt.
Avocado contains vitamin B6 that helps your nervous system function normally9. Avocado is also a good source of unsaturated fatty acids. You can add it to your breakfast smoothie to get an energetic start to your day.
Hazelnuts are a source of calcium that promotes the movement of nerve signals in your brain and body 10. Try them as a snack in the afternoon or add them to your lunch salad.
- Broccoli (boiled) contains on the average 79 µg /100 g folate that contributes to normal psychological function.
- Oat flakes contain on the average 3.6 mg /100 g zinc that contributes to normal cognitive function
- Beta-glucans contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Dark chocolate contains on the average 130 mg /100 g magnesium that contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
- Mastroiacovo D et al. Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study--a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2015;101(3):538-48. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.092189.
- Scholey A, Owen L.. Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutr Rev 2013;71(10):665-81. doi: 10.1111/nure.12065.
- Salmon (fried) contains 2 449 mg /100 g of DHA that contributes to maintenance of normal brain function and to the normal vision (with daily intake of 250 mg)
- Strawberry contains on the average 45 mg /100 g vitamin C that contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
- Avocado contains on the average 0.42 mg /100 g vitamin B6 that contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system.
- Hazelnut contains 138 mg /100 g calcium that contributes to normal neurotransmission.