You already know that eating the right foods comes with a ton of health benefits (including making you feel pretty damn good). But did you know that what you put on your plate can also impact your memory? We chatted with Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CSCS, and author of Three Steps to a Healthier You, about how to keep your brain in top shape. Read now, then jot these memory-boosting foods onto your grocery list (you know, so you don’t forget ‘em).
8 Brain Foods That Could Help Boost Your Memory
When it comes to brain food, fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel and sardines) are top of the class. That’s because they’re loaded with omega-3 fats for optimal brain function and vitamin D to protect your noggin. And since our bodies don’t make these fats and sunshine isn’t always available, it’s a good idea to get these nutrients from food. Check out these delicious salmon recipes that are ready in 20 minutes or less.
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that blueberries may improve or delay short-term memory loss. Rich in antioxidants, these berries also help protect the brain from inflammation. Try eating two half-cup servings of blueberries per week to boost your memory, says Rumsey.
Oooh, our favorite potato flavoring has been linked to improved memory, even helping students achieve 7 percent better results on tests, according to a recent study from Northumbria University. The reasons why aren’t exactly clear, but it’s thought that the smell of rosemary can affect electrical activity in the brain. Bring on the taters.
Great news for coffee lovers. Caffeine can provide a short-term boost in both memory and concentration, plus it may decrease the chance of cognitive decline as we age. “Caffeine has also been linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s, with one study showing coffee drinkers may have up to a 65 percent less chance of developing the disease,” explains Rumsey. (Sorry, this doesn’t apply to that sugar-laden caramel frap.)
These protein powerhouses contain folate, which helps to protect the brain. Legumes (like lentils, beans and peas) are also a good source of slow-digesting glucose, providing the brain with a steady source of fuel. Toss them in a salad, make them the star of the show in a soup or incorporate into a healthy Buddha bowl. Easy peasy.
Veggies, meats, salads, heck, even cakes—is there anything olive oil can’t do? Apparently not. “Olive oil contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that can prevent and possibly reverse disease and age-related memory loss,” says Rumsey. Drizzle away.
A delicious and nutritious snack, pumpkin seeds are also chock-full of zinc, an important mineral for enhancing memory and brain health. Use ’em to add crunch to salads and oatmeal, or just keep a bag handy for a healthy pick-me-up.