If you’re looking to make the most of your time while still maximizing productivity, nutrition can play an important role in helping you get things done. Brain food doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive; the key ingredients are foods that are both high in nutrients and low in calories, to help you avoid distraction by hunger pangs, and let you focus on what matters most right now. Here are some brain foods that will make you more productive when it comes to getting things done.
These antioxidant-rich berries help improve memory and mental performance. Additionally, they are high in fiber and vitamin C and can be consumed both raw or cooked. In addition to their health benefits, blueberries make a tasty snack that won’t leave you feeling sluggish like some other carb-heavy snacks do. They also come at a relatively affordable price—so grab some next time you visit your local grocery store!
This morning meal, rich in fiber and protein, has been linked to improved brain function and memory. A bowl of oatmeal gets its antioxidant kick from compounds called phytochemicals—plant chemicals that neutralize free radicals. These are natural pesticides that your body uses to protect against diseases like cancer. But you’re only as strong as your weakest organ, so eat up—even if it means putting down that plate of bacon!
Just like brain food can prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, eating healthy fats like pumpkin seeds can also improve memory. Pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which research has shown is critical for brain health. If you’re trying to boost your focus and concentration at work, consider making pumpkin seed butter a part of your daily routine—just don’t overdo it. Two tablespoons should do it!
Rich in folate, betaine and nitrates, beets are one of nature’s most powerful brain foods. Studies show that beet juice can help boost blood flow to key areas of your brain and is also a great source of nutrients for long-term health. Boost your memory with a few sips from a beaker! (Of course, don’t forget about other healthy habits like exercise and good sleep.)
This superfood is becoming one of my favorite foods of all time, thanks to its high levels of monounsaturated fats. Not only can you eat it in salads or sandwiches, but you can use it to replace oil or butter when baking or sautéing your veggies. In fact, avocados are so nutrient-dense that they’re often referred to as nature’s perfect food. They’re a great source of vitamins C and E and potassium—which help lower blood pressure—and fiber and folate (which help maintain a healthy heart). And they also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to protect against age-related macular degeneration.
Not only is quinoa a complete protein (which means it contains all nine essential amino acids) and a good source of fiber, but it also contains micronutrients like magnesium, manganese, and copper. These nutrients are important for energy production and cardiovascular health. Quinoa can be prepared many ways — you can use it in place of rice in salads or as a base for tacos. At under $4 per pound, quinoa is also an affordable food choice that keeps you full for hours after eating.
One of best sources of fatty acids, flaxseed oil is a great alternative to butter. Flaxseed oil helps promote healthy skin and brain function. While you might not be able to get it from your diet alone, you can incorporate flaxseed oil into salad dressings or smoothies for a nutritional boost. If you are looking for other good oils for your overall health, consider avocado, olive and coconut oils as well.
When we get stressed, our brains release cortisol. Long-term exposure to cortisol can damage brain cells and may accelerate Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, walnuts contain brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In a study at Oregon Health & Science University, participants who consumed omega-3 supplements had improved their memory, while those with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower scores on cognitive tests.
What’s so great about broccoli? Well, it’s a cruciferous vegetable high in vitamin C and fiber. Broccoli is also known to be an antioxidant—meaning it helps fight disease and boost immunity. What’s more, broccoli is low in calories and high in vitamins, making it a perfect side dish to any dinner or main course. The best part of all? It pairs well with just about everything: lemon juice, butter, cheese…whatever you can think of!
Some of my favorite brain foods include: avocados, eggs, and salmon. All of these are great sources of healthy fats and protein, but they’re also easy to incorporate into your diet because they can be eaten at breakfast or as a snack. In fact, if you’re looking for easy, healthy meals that will help improve your productivity and cognitive performance throughout your day, incorporating these foods is a great place to start!