There are so many foods that contain nutrients known to benefit the brain. From nuts and seeds to fish, fruits and vegetables, there are plenty of brain-boosting foods to choose from. To maximize the impact your food choices can have on your brain health, it’s best to eat a variety of brain-boosting foods throughout the day. This includes breakfast. Although considered the most important meal of the day, breakfast is also known for its sweet cooked foods, if not completely ignored by many. But what makes this meal so important is the fact that it replenishes the energy levels your body depends on to carry you physically and mentally through the day.
With so many foods to choose from, there’s no reason to give up on these brain-healthy foods, especially at breakfast. For a better breakfast that boosts your brain, here are seven foods you should eat for a productive and focused day. And for more dietitian-approved breakfast ideas to keep you on top of your game, be sure to read Healthy Breakfast Foods Dietitians Say You Should Eat.
Known for their protein content and ease of preparation, eggs are also a source of choline. This nutrient is known to play many roles in the body, including being a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Because acetylcholine specifically plays a role in memory and intelligence, consuming adequate amounts of choline is essential for brain function. Scrambled, boiled, or fried, eggs are a rich source of brain-boosting choline to enjoy for breakfast.
Although most fish are not generally considered breakfast foods, smoked salmon is by far one of the healthiest sources of protein to include in your breakfast. In addition to protein, salmon also contains essential omega-3 fatty acids which may benefit the brain. Current research notes the important role that omega-3s may play in children’s brain development, and maternal intake of omega-3s during pregnancy may support a child’s mental development. Additional studies note that diets deficient in omega-3s may be associated with impairments in cognitive performance. Enjoy your salmon on a whole wheat bagel with a light cream cheese spread for a delicious and easy breakfast.
This class of fruit is known for its purple and red coloring and high nutritional value. Although all berries are a source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, they also contain antioxidants called flavanols. All antioxidants protect cells from damage, and this particular compound may also have brain-boosting effects. In fact, a study in adult participants who ate blueberries found improved memory and attention. Although this study only observed the benefits of consuming blueberries, it appears that other berries possess similar characteristics. Enjoy berries in a smoothie, oatmeal or cereal, or as an accompaniment to your morning eggs.
This seed is a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids and may contain some of the same benefits as the healthy fats found in salmon. Research in rodents has found that maternal consumption of flaxseed may promote neuroprotective effects and spatial memory in their offspring. Although the types of omega-3s found in fish may have stronger effects than the forms found in plant sources, all forms of omega-3s appear to benefit the brain. Simply add ground or ground flaxseed to your homemade oatmeal, smoothie, or muffin recipe.
Another easy breakfast food, this nut contains brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenolic compounds. These compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that appear to benefit the brain. Research suggests that a diet containing nuts may positively impact memory and learning, may improve cognition, and reduce the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. Nuts can be blended into a smoothie, added to oatmeal or cereal, or incorporated into homemade pancakes or banana bread.
This category of vegetables includes kale, spinach, cabbage, and collard greens, to name a few. Although these vegetables contain many beneficial nutrients, the lutein, folate, beta-carotene and phylloquinone found in leafy greens may help slow the natural decline in cognitive abilities seen in older adults. Although you may think green vegetables are more appropriate for lunch or dinner, there are a number of ways to incorporate them into your breakfast. Simply sauté and add leafy greens to your omelet, stir raw leafy greens into your smoothie, or toss them in olive oil and lemon before topping your bagel and smoked salmon.
Although all nuts and seeds contain healthy unsaturated fats, the nutrients found in pumpkin seeds in particular may also benefit the brain. Like many other foods on this list, pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants that protect body and brain cells from damage. Additionally, these seeds contain a collection of minerals that are also involved in brain health. Zinc is a nutrient found in pumpkin seeds that is found in high concentrations in the brain and is involved in the functioning of hundreds of systems and reactions in the body, including the nervous system. In fact, research suggests that a zinc deficiency may be linked to certain neurological conditions and brain diseases. You can incorporate the brain-protecting benefits of pumpkin seeds by adding them to your homemade granola, topping your yogurt parfait, or mixing them into your morning oatmeal.
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