Your brain is a big deal.
As your body’s control center, it allows your heart to beat and your lungs to breathe, move, feel, and think.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your brain at its peak.
The food you eat plays an important role in keeping your brain healthy and can improve certain mental tasks such as memory and concentration.
- Fatty fish
When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is usually at the top of the list.
These types of fish include salmon, salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines, which are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids ( 1Trusted Source ).
About 60 percent of your brain is made up of fat, and half of that fat is made up of omega-3 fatty acids ( 2Trusted Source ).
Your brain uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memory ( 2 , 3 Trusted Source ).
Omega-3s provide several additional benefits for your brain.
For one thing, they slow age-related mental decline and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease ( 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 ).
On the other hand, not getting enough omega-3s has been linked to learning disabilities and depression ( 3Trusted Source , 8Trusted Source ).
In general, eating fish has positive health effects.
Research shows that people who eat fish regularly have more gray matter in their brains. Gray matter contains most of the neurons that control decision-making, memory, and emotions ( 9Trusted Source ).
Overall, fatty fish is a great choice for brain health.
If coffee is your morning staple, you’ll be happy to hear that it works for you.
Caffeine and antioxidants, the two main components of coffee, help promote brain health.
The caffeine in coffee has several positive effects on the brain, including (10 trusted sources):
Increased vigilance. Caffeine keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, the chemical messenger that makes you feel sleepy ( 11Trusted Source , 12Trusted Source ).
Improved mood. Caffeine can increase some of your “feel-good” neurotransmitters, like dopamine ( 13Trusted Source ).
Sharp focus. One study found that caffeine consumption led to short-term improvements in attention and alertness in participants who completed a cognitive test ( 14Trusted Source ).
Long-term coffee consumption may reduce the risk of developing neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Adults who drank 3 to 4 cups a day had the greatest reduction in risk ( 10 , 15Trusted Source ).
It is high in antioxidants found in coffee (163. blueberries
Blueberries provide many health benefits, including some specifically for your brain.
Blueberries and other deeply colored berries contain anthocyanins, a plant compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (17).
Antioxidants fight oxidative stress and inflammation, which contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases ( 18Trusted Source ).
Certain antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells (17, 19).
One review of 11 studies found that blueberries can improve memory and some cognitive processes in children and the elderly ( 20Trusted Source ).
Try it sprinkled on cereal for breakfast, added to smoothies, or enjoyed as a simple snack.
Turmeric has been all the rage lately.
This deep yellow spice is the main ingredient in curry powder and has numerous benefits for the brain.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain directly, meaning it benefits the cells there ( 21Trusted Source ).
It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has been linked to post-brain benefits.
Good for memory. Curcumin may help improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients. It may also help remove the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of this disease ( 21Trusted Source , 22Trusted Source ).
Alleviates depression. Curcumin increases serotonin and dopamine and improves mood. One review found that curcumin improved symptoms of depression and anxiety when used alongside standard treatments in people with depression ( 23Trusted Source , 24Trusted Source ).
Helps grow new brain cells. Curcumin increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a growth hormone that helps the growth of brain cells. It may help slow age-related mental decline, but more research is needed ( 25 , 26 ).
Most studies use highly concentrated curcumin supplements at doses ranging from 500 to 2,000 mg per day, which is usually sufficient for most people.
as a spice. This is because turmeric is only made up of around 3–6% curcumin (27Trusted Source).
Therefore, while adding turmeric to your food may be beneficial, you may need to use a curcumin supplement under a doctor’s guidance to obtain the results reported in these studies.