Take Care of Your Brain with These 6 Powerful Fresh Foods
With Summer just around the corner, it makes sense that June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month. The United Fresh Produce Association (UPFA) created this national day in 1991 to increase consumption and access to fresh fruits and veggies across the United States. The UPFA supports schools and community nonprofits to educate children about proper nutrition and give them access to fresh produce.
Research studies have shown eating healthier foods can improve students’ brain function by helping them focus, think clearly and be physically active. This fact doesn’t change as children grow into adults.
Your brain never sleeps.
Ponder this fact. Your brain is always on, 24/7/365, as it makes sure your heart continues to beat, signals your lungs to breathe, opens your eyes to see, and more. The brain works hard to keep you alive and requires the right kinds of food to function properly.
What you eat affects your brain.
You’ve probably heard from your doctor or the American Heart Association that eating lean meats, beans, nonfat foods, fish, nuts, etc. is good for your heart. When your heart is in good health, you feel good because the heart is pumping enough blood and oxygen throughout your body. The brain needs healthy foods, too. When you feed it with fresh fruits and veggies, the brain works to help you think clearly, remember more things, maintain balance, and more. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables nourish and protect your brain.
Eating healthier has many benefits.
If eating healthier foods isn’t appealing, ask yourself these questions: After lunch are you ready for a nap or energized to finish that project? Do you often feel irritated? Do you have trouble staying focused? Foods that are high in calories, saturated with fats, loaded with carbohydrates and sugars not only impact your waistline but also your brain.
Give yourself and your brain a gift by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. When you go to the grocery store or a local farmers market buy these foods packed with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants:
- Avocados – Contain healthy unsaturated fats which keep brain cell membranes flexible. Fatty acids protect nerve cells and strengthen the brain’s muscle. Recipe tip: Known as ‘nature’s butter’, make an avocado spread with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and spices to slather on a piece of whole wheat toast.
- Berries – This delicious fruit contains antioxidants and flavonoids which help memory, learning and motor skills. Recipe tip: Add some fresh berries to brighten up a salad and add a new texture.
- Broccoli – This leafy green has two important nutrients which help improve your brain’s function. Vitamin K strengthens cognitive abilities while Choline has been linked to memory improvement. Research studies have reported broccoli can also improve your mood. Recipe tip: Steam some broccoli with a squeeze of lemon and then sauté in olive oil and chopped garlic.
- Celery – This veggie stick contains Luteolin which can decrease age-related brain inflammation and reduce memory problems. Recipe tip: Instead of peanut butter, stuff a celery stick with a lighter version of chicken or tuna salad.
- Grapes – This plump fruit contains Resveratrol, an antioxidant, that boosts blood flow in the cerebrum (front part of the brain which controls memory, motor skills, speech, etc.), and can improve memory function. Recipe tip: Instead of crackers, add grapes to a cheese plate to serve as an appetizer or snack
- Spinach – Packed with magnesium, spinach helps dilate blood vessels and increases blood flow to the brain. The B Vitamin Folate in this leafy green has been shown to reduce homocysteine, a compound toxic to neurons, which are specialized brain cells created to transmit information to other cells. Recipe tip: Substitute iceberg lettuce with fresh spinach leaves and combine with strawberries, chopped walnuts, and quinoa, both healthy brain foods. Top with a drizzle of a vinaigrette dressing.
Take care of your brain and it will take care of you.
Your brain is the reason you can talk, walk, think, breathe, feel, sleep, and more. So, feed it with fresh fruits and veggies and your body will thank you for it.