Most of us are starting to learn how our diet can affect aspects of our health other than our weight, and our brain power is one of those facets. If you're having a hard time paying attention to what you're doing, you might want to start eating some foods that can help you stay focused. Consuming the right balance of nutrients can help you feel energized and alert, and you'll want both your brain and body functioning optimally if there is something that needs your razor sharp attention.
"Diet can have a significant impact on brainpower," says Edwina Clark, MS, RD, APD, CSSD, and Head of Nutrition at Yummly over email. "We’ve all had moments where we’ve overdone it lunch, resulting in a sleepy, unproductive afternoon. Similarly, there’s a reason why we’re all reaching for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning."
No one food is magic (except maybe coffee), but if you eat the right balance of nutrients, you might be surprised at how much more alert you'll feel and how much info you can retain. If you want to improve your focus, concentration, and memory, try incorporating these 11 brain-boosting foods into your, and you might see a spike in your productivity.
Here's another excuse to eat some of the sweet treat: Research from the University of South Australia found that people who ate chocolate at least once a week performed better cognitively, including better memory, organization, and abstract reasoning. Just opt for dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa or higher for best results — the rest are filled with cream and sugar, which can actually have the opposite effect.
2. Fatty Fish
"Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fats, which assist with brain function," says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN over email. "These fatty fish also have nice amounts of a fat called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which helps the brain work more efficiently."
3. Whole Grains
"Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel of the brain, and providing your brain with a steady stream of carbohydrates throughout the day can help you stay sharp and alert," says Clark. "The key with carbohydrates is to focus on those that move slowly through the digestive tract and not go overboard. Whole grains such as oats, 100 percent whole wheat bread, quinoa, farro, and brown rice are excellent, slow-burning choices."
"Eggs are a rich source of choline, a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is important for memory, circadian rhythms, and a variety of other neurological functions," says Clark.
There's a reason so many of us turn to coffee on a day we need to be productive. A study from the Medical University at Innsbruck, Austria found that coffee improves your focus by increasing areas in the brain that are involved in planning, attention, monitoring and concentration. "To get the most out of coffee without adverse side effects keep additives like half and half, sugar, and other flavoring to a minimum, and limit your intake to two cups of drip coffee or four espresso shots a day."
Like coffee, tea contains caffeine, but it also contains another nutrient that works to provide extra concentration. "Green tea and black tea are rich in an amino acid called l-theanine," says Clark. "Studies suggest that the combination of l-theanine and caffeine may explain the improvements in attention observed after the consumption of caffeinated tea."
Keep a few nuts on hand when you're feeling distracted. A study from UCLA found that eating a handful of walnuts per day can help boost memory, concentration and the speed at which your brain processes information.
A study from Tufts University found that eating berries can enhance learning and memory. "[Berries] contain a plant chemical called anthocyanins that have been shown to help boost memory function," says Amidor.
Avocado toast is not only trendy, but good for the brain as well. The fruit contains the healthy type of fats called monounsaturated fats, which can help preserve memory and improve brain functioning.
Broccoli contains a number of nutrients such as choline and vitamin K that can help improve your memory. Additionally, broccoli is high in lignans, a compound that boosts thinking, remembering, and imagining, according to research from King's College London.
11. Leafy Greens
Time to whip out those salads. Research from the Journal of Neurology found that people who ate leafy greens daily showed the same mental focus as someone five years younger than them.
The healthier your diet, the more power and energy your brain will have.
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