Eat These 5 Powerful Foods to Improve Your Thinking

Alyssa Atkinson

Simple nutrients proven to prevent memory loss.

Photo by Macu ic on Unsplash

It was my first finals week ever. I had three exams in one day and the stakeswere high. Out of sheer desperation, I tried every trick in the book to stay awake and power through endless hours of studying.

After all, sleep is for the weak, right?

At least, that’s how it felt during the most stressful week of the semester when a single exam score could, quite literally, make or break your grade.

So, I succumbed to the college norm of cramming all night before my tests. I used coffee, junk food, and fruit flavored gum to stay awake. I was sure that studying more was the only way I would perform to the best of my abilities.

In reality, this approach probably did more harm than good. A lot of what I had studied in the late hours of the evening became a blur the following morning.

The lack of sleep and poor diet left my mind and body feeling depleted. I actually ended up missing my last cross-country practice before winter break because I got sick a few days after finals ended and had to head home early.

What I really should have been focusing on was balancing my studies with two other crucial components — sleep and food.

There are actually certain foods that have been proven to give your brain a boost, help you think more critically, and prevent memory loss. So, if you have a pile work to tackle or you need to get that creative flow going, try adding the following five foods to your diet.

1. Berries

Berries are an easy to find, simple, and inexpensive source of nutrients that have been shown to provide a substantial improvement in memory.

If you are looking for natural ways to prevent memory loss, berries should be a staple in your diet.

In fact, according to Harvard Health:

Flavonoids, the natural plant pigments that give berries their brilliant hues, also help improve memory, research shows. In a 2012 study published in Annals of Neurology, researchers at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years.

Now, two and a half years might not seem like much. But, I think everyone would agree that getting an extra two and a half years to spend with the ones you love is practically an eternity.

And if something as simple as eating berries each week could aid in preventing memory loss, then it’s certainly worth the trouble.

2. This Healthy Fat Source

Nuts are an amazing source of healthy fat that keep you satisfied between meals and promote weight maintenance. Plus, studies have also linked them to improved memory.

Walnuts in particular have been shown to give your brain a boost:

A 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores.

As the saying goes, you are what you eat. So, it’s unsurprising to me that the nut that just so happens to look similar to a brain has been shown to provide cognitive benefits.

Therefore, if you’re looking to eat a diet that keeps your mind sharp, walnuts should certainly be included in it.

3. These Green Leafy Vegetables

Leafy greens have a number of powerful health benefits, and boosting your brain power is just one of the many perks.

Even if you don’t like eating your greens raw in a salad, you could try blending them up in a smoothie, throwing them in a vegetable stir fry, making your own kale chips, etc.

According to Harvard Health:

Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene.

These simple plant-based nutrients pack a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, they should be included as part of your healthy, brain boosting diet.

4. The Following Oil

All throughout my life, I have constantly heard people say that oil is bad for you. That might be true for some oils. However, all oil is not created equal.

Extra virgin olive oil has actually been found to provide protection against cognitive decline:

Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) have identified a specific ingredient that protects against cognitive decline: extra-virgin olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet

Now, I’ve never really loved the taste of oil in general. However, once I started hearing about some of the potential health benefits that certain oils have to offer, I found a few enjoyable ways to add it to my diet.

Nowadays, I like to cook up some pasta and sauté a few handfuls of spinach. Then, I’ll drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and add some nutritional yeast. It packs in a lot of flavor, and also provides health benefits and memory protection.

If pasta isn’t for you, you could try roasting some of your favorite vegetables and drizzling them with a bit of olive oil. The oil adds a ton of flavor to the vegetables and provides you with those amazing brain benefits.

5. Beans

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the vitamin B contained in beans is:

“especially valuable to your brain and nervous system, helping make the neurotransmitters that pass signals between nerves.

While there are a number of foods that act as a great source of vitamin B, such as fruits and vegetables, beans are especially great because they are easy to use as the base for a wide variety of meals.

Some of my favorite ways to use beans include making a fresh bowl of chili, a crunchy taco salad, or thick and flavorful black bean burgers.

There are endless combinations of dishes you can create using beans, so they truly are an easy brain boosting food to add to your diet.

Final Thoughts

While each of the five foods I’ve shared have been shown to benefit the mind in powerful ways, the most important similarity that exists between them is that they are natural, minimally processed foods grown from the earth.

Years ago, I made the choice to start filling my diet with mostly natural plant-based sources, and my mental and physical health have both improved immensely. Nowadays, my diet is rich in many of the foods I’ve mentioned, like spinach, kale, cherries, and nuts.

The evidence is clear that if you can add some of these incredible foods to your own diet, you will be doing your body and mind a favor, and you’ll also set yourself up for a longer, happier life.

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Ohio U XC/Track alum. I love to run. I blog about food, health, fitness, lifestyle, etc. Personal Blog - | Electrical and Computer Engineering Grad.

Raleigh, NC

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