Exercise, social interaction, and a solid eight hours of quality sleep per night can all help to improve brain function, enhancing our memories and staving off the onset of old age. However, what we put into our bodies is even more important and research indicates that brain health can be improved by eating specific foods.
While experts like the founder of the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health, James Galvin, admit that “there are vegan marathon-running astrophysicists who develop Alzheimer’s disease and Twinkie-eating couch potatoes who don’t”, eating foods good for brain health is nevertheless “a no-lose situation”.
One study showed that those on the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, for example, “could reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent”.
In This Article –
How to Improve Brain Health
When you’re in your 30s, you tend to overlook the importance of brain health and not to worry about the possible onset of Alzheimer’s or even give that much thought to brain health nutrition. “Regional deterioration of brain structure” begins at the age of 30 and accelerates as we get older so the earlier we try to combat it by giving our brain healthy foods, the better we’ll feel in the long run.
Good brain nutrition also helps your body regulate insulin, reduce inflammation and maintain the correct balance between antioxidants and free radicals, both of which help keep the body healthy and the immune system functioning effectively.
A healthy brain also means a happy heart and studies have shown that following “traditional” diets like the Mediterranean can lower the risk of depression by 25% to 35%. If, on the other hand, your diet is high in refined sugars and other bad food for the brain, you could experience “impaired brain function – and even a worsening of … mood disorders, such as depression”.
How to Increase Brain Power
If you’ve got an important presentation due at work or your sitting exams, you’ll want to be firing on all cylinders. While an energy drink might give you a temporary boost, if you want to know how to increase brain power on a more permanent basis, it’s through neuro-nutrition.
A good portion of whole grains can help you focus and concentrate more effectively, while blueberries could do your short-term memory the world of good. If you’re feeling stressed at the thought of a job interview or an important business meeting, you could try tucking into a few blueberries for breakfast. Blueberries contain a high level of vitamin C that can both increase mental agility and reduce anxiety.
Drinking green tea also has some benefits, as does a decent cappuccino, surprisingly enough. In addition to making sure you eat the best brain food; you can also try these brain health exercises:
- Get eight hours’ sleep a night
- Exercise for 30 minutes every day
- Turn off all electronics 30 minutes before you try to sleep
- Drink plenty of water
- Learn to meditate
- Learn a new language or skill
What is Brain Food?
According to one online medical dictionary, brain food is purely “a popular term for fish, the consumption of which, the ancients believed, increases cognitive capabilities; this may have some credence, given fish’s high concentration of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid”.
These days, however, brain food is considered to be a little more inclusive than that and refers to a variety of different foods good for brain health. Wikipedia’s definition, for instance, states that brain food is “any food consumed for the purpose of energizing the brain or promoting intellectual thought”.
Just as our bodies respond differently to different foods, however, so do our brains and men and women often need different nutrient cocktails to keep their wits about them. Dr. Lisa Mosconi, the author of The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease believes that for women to maintain good brain health, they need to focus on three main nutrients – antioxidants, polyunsaturated fats, and fiber.
That’s all well and good, but what food do we need to eat to ensure we get those nutrients into our bodies?
What Food is Good for the Brain?
While some brain foods are obvious, others may come as a surprise, like chocolate and caffeine, for instance. The following brain food list doesn’t include every brain-boosting food there is, but it does cover the best brain foods and those that are most beneficial for overall brain health:
Green, Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables like cabbage, collard, kale, and spinach are high in antioxidants, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin K, all of which are great for brain health. Eating at least one portion of green leafy vegetables each day is a “simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia”.
Not only are these vegetables good for overall brain health and slow cognitive decline, but they also promote bone health, and reduce inflammation.
The best vegan meal delivery service includes leafy vegetables in at least two of its dishes every week and includes some imaginative serving suggestions, like quinoa and tofu bowls with cashew-lime dressing.
Fatty fish like cod, salmon, trout, and sardines contain lots of mega-3 fatty acids that are essential to our brain health. Why? Around 60% of the brain is made up of fat, so while we might think we store all our fat on our hips or thighs, the fact is, there’s plenty up there in our grey matter as well.
Fatty fish help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and maintain normal brain function. The fatty acids provided by these fish are also vital when it comes to “preserving cell membrane health [in the brain] and facilitating communication between brain cells”.
Some meal delivery services offer dedicated pescatarian menus but if you prefer a plant-only diet, however, you can get all the omega-3 fatty acids from alternative sources like avocados, flaxseed, and nuts.
Who would’ve thought dark chocolate would be amongst the foods good for brain health? When it comes to brain food snacks, dark chocolate is one of your best options, containing antioxidants, caffeine, and flavonoids all of which prompt brain health and boost mood.
Dark chocolate generally has more cocoa and less sugar than the milk variety and is believed to increase neuroplasticity and boost cognitive performance. Don’t overdo it, though – experts say between 20 to 30g per day is optimum and recommend chocolate that contains at 70% cacao.
These little bursts of color and flavor not only provide excellent brain health nutrition but are also all-round superheroes when it comes to health. All kinds of berries, from blueberries to strawberries, cranberries to goji berries, have the highest antioxidant content of any other fruit, apart from pomegranates.
Berries also contain natural pigments, known as flavonoids, that can help improve memory, although these tend to be higher in colorful berries like blueberries or cranberries.
Whole grains are high in vitamin E which improves blood flow and contains both vitamin E, which has antioxidant qualities, and some omega-3s. Brown rice, barley, oats, wholegrain bread, and even whole-grain pasta are all foods good for brain health, helping to reduce inflammation in the brain and potentially preserve memory.
A Paleo diet excludes whole grains so if you want to up your vitamin E and give your brain the benefits of this superfood, you’d be better off with the best diabetic meal delivery service rather than the best paleo alternative.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds bring us yet more antioxidants and omega-3s but it seems our brains just can’t get enough of them. Oxidative stress occurs as we age, especially if we don’t get enough vitamin E, which sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts have in plenty of.
Nuts, in general, provide us with healthy fats and protein, and some, like walnuts, which contain alpha-linolenic acid, can even improve memory and reduce blood pressure.
Nuts are extremely versatile and delicious and thinking up new ways of incorporating them into your diet isn’t that challenging. If you do need a bit of inspiration, however, turn to the best fitness meal delivery service and its nutty temptations. How does pork cashew curry sound? Or Gong Bao Chicken with Cashews and Black Rice?
Bad Food for the Brain
At the other end of the scale to our brain food list is a list of foods that are detrimental to our mental health. A recent study conducted in Australia revealed that a so-called ‘western’ diet full of saturated fats and sugars had a detrimental effect on the brain in just seven days.
Within our brains is a region known as the hippocampus which is instrumental in both our memory and our appetite control. Junk food impairs this region and makes us more likely to overeat. When the hippocampus fails to work effectively, we are flooded with memories of how good food tastes so such a degree that we are drawn to eat more even once we’re full.
Aside from junk food, there are lots of other bad foods for the brain, including:
- Soda or pop contains a lot of sugar which can increase the probability of diabetes 2 which, in turn, increases the chances of Alzheimer’s. High blood sugar levels have also been linked to an increased risk of dementia.
- Margarine, shop-bought cookies, ready-made cakes, and snack foods have a high trans-fat content which can increase mental decline and lead to poorer memory and reduced overall mental capacity.
- Sweets, chips, ready-made meals, and microwave popcorn are some examples of processed foods high in added fats, salt, and sugar. These can all lead to more fat around the organs which causes damage to brain tissue.
- Alcohol enjoyed in moderation is fine, but in excess it can play havoc with your brain health, disrupting neurotransmitters, reducing brain volume and causing memory loss.
This antipathy of a brain food list is by no means complete, but it gives you an idea of the kind of foods you should be avoiding and replacing with power foods for the brain.
How to Keep Your Brain Healthy Naturally with the Best Meal Delivery Services
While we often start with good intentions about our eating habits, those often fall by the wayside when work and family commitments leave us with little time in the kitchen. Instead, we opt for the nearest convenience, be it a takeout around the corner or unhealthy, processed foods from the grocery store.
So how can you make a meal plan you’ll actually stick to? With a meal delivery service, of course! Not only do meal delivery services focus on nutritional food for the body, but they also provide plenty of recipes packed with the best foods for brain health.
Meal delivery services are one of the best ways to avoid processed food because they provide a healthy, convenient alternative that takes just minutes to prepare. Not only will you engage your brain and improve your brain health conjuring up the dish from the recipe card provided, but you’ll also have the benefit of some powerful brain-boosting foods in every meal.
#1 Sun Basket
Packed with power foods for the brain and consisting mainly of organic ingredients from sustainable sources, Sun Basket offers a range of menus for those who appreciate the importance of brain health and its Mediterranean meal plan contains the best foods for brain health.
Sun Basket accommodates those who don’t want to cook at all, as well as those who prefer getting fresh ingredients and concocting good brain food-based meals themselves. Choose from oven-ready, pre-prepped, or classic meals depending on how much time you have, or even and throw in a breakfast or two to sweeten the deal. Feel your brain power increase as you knock back a brain-boosting Hella Berry Smoothie or a handful of Mexican hot chocolate walnuts.
Although Sun Basket prides itself on sourcing organic ingredients wherever possible, its prices remain surprisingly competitive, starting at $10.99 per portion for an evening meal. Shipping isn’t free, however, so you’ll need to budget an additional $6.99 per week to cover that.
When it comes to how to improve brain health, eating meals from Sun Basket is a simple solution that’s both convenient and affordable. Read more in our extensive review.
#2 Home Chef
While Sun Basket is affordable, it’s not ideal if you’re on a tight budget. Home Chef, on the other hand, has budget written all over it and users enjoy healthy meals for as little as $6.99 per portion, while various brain food snacks keep you going in between.
Home Chef is one of the biggest meal delivery services in the US and delivers to all states in the continental US and, if your order comes to more than $40, shipping is free. While Home Chef offers a range of meals, it doesn’t force users into specific meal plans, rather letting them choose between low-calorie dishes, oven-ready meals, and a culinary collection of classics.
Sticking with more traditional dishes and flavors, Home Chef appeals to a wide range of people and is one of the best meal delivery services for families with popular dishes like southern fried shrimp tacos and sirloin steak with garlic herb butter on the menu. Even those meals are full of foods good for brain health, though, so you can boost your brainpower while enjoying simple comfort food that all your family can enjoy. For more information, read out full service review.
#3 Green Chef
Whether you want to embrace a keto eating regime, convert to a purely plant-based diet, or simply enjoy healthy meals with your family, Green chef has a meal plan for you. Like Sun Basket, Green Chef is committed to sourcing its ingredients from organic suppliers, so you’ll not only benefit from the best brain healthy foods, but also from the peace of mind that comes with eating ingredients free of nasty chemicals.
Green Chef incorporates a range of international culinary trends into its meals which is great for those with an adventurous palate, but not ideal for more conservative eaters. Prices for the family meals start at $10.99, while those opting for a more specialized meal plan will be looking at $11.99 to $12.99 per portion, although discounts are often available.
Order meals like honey-citrus glazed salmon with broccoli and almonds and you’ll be munching down on the full spectrum of power foods for the brain before the week is out.
This plant-based meal delivery service is a great way to enjoy a variety of meat-free gourmet dishes. While some believe a purely vegan diet isn’t necessarily good for the brain, increasing your intake of foods good for brain health, like green vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, can be.
You don’t have to completely convert to a plant-based diet to enjoy Purple Carrot, but you can opt to have a couple of meat-free days a week.
Purple Carrot offers four meal plans, including its unique TB12 Performance meal plan which is both gluten-free and designed to optimize your overall health. Meals in this plan include tantalizing combos like roasted sweet potato with spicy cashew sauce and more traditional fare like beet burgers with smoky tomato aioli and potato wedges.
With expensive ingredients like meat and fish off the menu, Purple Carrot is one of the best and cheapest meal delivery services around, with prices starting at $7.49 per portion if you order four portions, or $9.99 if you opt for the two-serving plan.
When thinking about how to keep the brain healthy naturally, the key is balance, which is precisely what this meal delivery service offers. Designed by a bariatric physician, Balance is focused on providing its users with the right balance of macronutrients.
The Mediterranean meal plan is the obvious choice for anyone wanting a diet devoted to brain health nutrition, although alternative plans like heart-healthy, diabetes, gluten-free, or low sodium will still ensure you’re getting your fair share of the best foods for brain health.
If you’re looking for a meal plan that contains brain-boosting foods while helping you to lose weight, Balance is an excellent option. As meals are pre-prepared, they just need to be heated up and enjoyed. Prices start at as little as $5.99 per portion and users can add as many dishes and portions as they like, making it flexible as well as cost-effective.
With over 100 dishes available, including traditional options like grilled salmon with lemon Dijon dressing and more unusual combinations like dark chocolate chip crepe with pork sausage hash, Balance has brain-boosting foods for everyone. For more information read out full review.
Start Early: Baby Brain Development Food
When it comes to the smallest members of your household, baby brain development food is essential. Cerebelly was developed by a practicing neurosurgeon and ensures that your baby gets the best start in life. This organic brain food for babies includes nutrients that support early brain development and also provide the nutritional foundation for your baby to reach its full potential.
As it states on the Cerebelly website,
“Your baby’s brain is growing super fast, up to 1% a day, and making as many as 700 new connections a second. By age 3, it’s roughly 80% of its adult size.”
If you aren’t sure where to start you can take the Cerebelly quiz which will guide you as to the best foods for baby brain development. Some of the food pouches available include:
- Black bean and sweet potato
- Spinach, apple, and sweet potato
- White bean, pumpkin, and apple
- Broccoli and pear
- Carrot and pumpkin
- Butternut squash and white bean
- Pea and basil
- Pea, spinach, and pear
- Sweet potato and mango
Within the ingredients, you might see an organic nutrient blend, which includes vitamins and minerals from ground-up vegetables and seeds such as spinach, squash, kelp, maitake mushrooms, chlorella, and sunflower seeds. All Cerebelly pouches are gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free and they do not contain any preservatives.
Upon signing up and placing your order, it will take around 24 hours for your order to be processed and you will receive an email confirmation when your order ships. Standard shipping will see your Cerebelly box arrive within 2 to 7 business days after the shipping date, while expedited shipping will take 2 to 3 business days. If you choose the latter, you can track your order once you receive a confirmation email so you can see when your package is due to arrive.
- 14 pouches – $40.46
- 28 pouches – $77
- 42 pouches – $109.20
- 56 pouches – $129.36
It’s never too early to embrace the importance of brain health and realize the impact the foods we eat have on our mental capacity both now and in the future.
While brain health exercises can help prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia from developing later in life, making sure we get a good daily dose of the best brain healthy foods is even more effective.
Be conscious of what you eat and avoid bad food for the brain by replacing store-bought cookies and chips with brain food snacks packed with nuts and seeds, and a sprinkling of dark chocolate.
With the demands of modern life leaving many of us with little time to look after our health effectively, let alone our brain health, the fact that many meal delivery services offer meals packed with power foods for the brain leaves us with no excuse.
If you’re not confident you can adapt your diet under your own steam, why not turn to a service like Sun Basket or Home Chef to do it for you? Not only will it mean you can use your valuable brain power on something other than planning meals and grocery shopping, but it will also give you the benefit of balanced, nutritious and good brain food.