Can’t remember where you left your keys? Your cell phone? Your parked car? Brain fog is an issue so many of us experience, and stress, aging, fatigue and dehydration can all contribute to the problem. Fortunately, you can help boost your memory — and brain power — by putting nutrient-rich picks onto your plate. The three super foods below contain compounds that can help nourish your noggin. Enjoy!
Why they boost brain power: Blueberries have been shown to help prevent or slow cognitive decline thanks to their high antioxidant content. Berries are rich in anthocyanins, plant compounds that give them their blue hue.
A 2012 study from Harvard University found that women who ate at least one cup of blueberries (and strawberries) per week significantly sharpened their smarts; they experienced a sizable two-and-a-half-year delay in mental decline compared to women who rarely ate berries. Enjoy them plain (fresh or frozen), add them to oatmeal or yogurt, toss them into smoothies or use them as a replacement for jam in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Why it boosts brain power: You’ve likely heard about the perks of dark chocolate by now. Well, you may not know that cocoa powder is 100 percent dark chocolate. That’s a real score! The flavanols in cocoa are associated with improved cognitive function, and in this case, it seems to be all about blood flow. Cocoa contains a compound called epicatechin, which appears to improve circulation and the growth of blood vessels. Better blood flow means more oxygen to the brain, and therefore, better brain function.
Look for unsweetened varieties that haven’t been “dutched” or processed with alkali (this is done to remove bitterness, but it destroys many of the flavanols). Ideally, opt for varieties with at least 200 mg flavanols. You can add cocoa powder to traditional vanilla yogurt or even stir some into your cup of coffee.
Why it boosts brain power: The caffeine in coffee has been shown to increase alertness, improve mood, boost cognitive function and make you feel less tired. There are also loads of protective antioxidants, so the brain benefits are likely coming from a combo of its caffeine and antioxidants. That means decaf is also a solid option for those who are sensitive to caffeine, since it still contains antioxidants.
Studies suggest that anywhere from one to three cups per day can help with improved cognitive function. Enjoy it hot or cold or even mixed in a smoothie.