Foods That Improve Memory and Does It Really Matter What We Eat?

Yes, it really does matter what you eat.  Not only is a balanced diet necessary for our physical health, what we eat also plays an important role in brain functions such as memory, attention and concentration.  While diet supplements are popular today and can help replace some of the nutrients we may lack, there is one thing to remember: your body absorbs 90% of the nutrients in the foods you eat while only absorbing 50% of those in supplement form.

Each nutrient class performs a different function within the brain.  Carbohydrates provide energy for the brain and the rest of the body.  Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for forming new brain cells.  Folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 allow the creation and release of neurotransmitters which is how the brain communicates from one part to another.  Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene, help protect the brain from environmental pollution by fighting free radicals which damage brain cells.

The best foods for memory improve brain function in general and specifically our ability to remember and concentrate.  This list includes the richest sources of the nutrients needed for optimal brain function throughout all stages of our lives.

Top 5 foods that help with memory:

Cold water fish Different kinds of fish, such as salmon and yellowfin tuna, are incredibly rich sources of both Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B6.  Both of these nutrients have proven vital to memory and cognitive function and can protect us from Alzheimer's disease and other age-related dementias. 

Spinach This leafy green is chock full of a whole range of B vitamins along with being rich in antioxidants and high in fiber.  Studies have shown that a diet with lots of spinach can improve learning capacity and even motor skills and may decrease brain damage in the event of a cardiovascular event such as a stroke.

Sweet potatoes This sweet orange tuber is not only delicious, it is especially rich in brain specific nutrients.  Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin B6, carbohydrates and antioxidants.  Basically, you get energy for the brain, production of neurotransmitters and protection from free radicals all in one food.

Flaxseed Flaxseed is almost as rich in Omega-3 fatty acids as cold water fish but is a more versatile source of these memory enhancing nutrients.  High in fiber, flaxseed can be added to any grain based food, from breads to cereals.  Flaxseed oil can also be used in cooking to increase your intake of the needed fatty acids.

Wheat germ Wheat germ is high in both Vitamin E and selenium, both of which are important antioxidants.  Choline and magnesium are also found in wheat germ.  Choline has been shown to be important to good brain function and choline deficiency has been linked to age-related memory loss and dementia.

As you can clearly see, there are foods that help with memory and improve brain function.  This list is by no means a complete list, either.  While these are particularly rich in nutrients vital to healthy brain function, there are many more foods that are good sources of memory and brain enhancing nutrition.


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