What are the Best Foods to Feed Your Brain?
If you’re hungry for knowledge, then you are constantly researching and reading to get the information you crave. But you can help feed that hunger by eating the right brain foods. We all know about foods we should or shouldn’t eat if we want to stay fit and healthy. But did you know there are also certain products which help to boost your brain power?
When studying a language, you’ll want to stay alert so the information sticks in your head and so you can concentrate better. There’s nothing worse than feeling that your grey matter is like a sieve where information goes in but falls straight out again. We want that information to stick so that you are quickly conversing on holiday or your new life abroad.
Basically, you need to:
- get your five fruit and vegetables a day,
- avoid sugar,
- drink lots of water and
- make sure your meal is made up of many different colours.
You need to get at least seven hours’ sleep every night, eat well and live well if you want to be on top of your game.
To help you, here are some of the best foods to feed you brain, boost your memory and with a few ideas how to cook them:
Scramble eggs not your brain
One top tip is to go to work on an egg. Having an egg for breakfast is a healthy way to start the day as long as you don’t fry it. Either have a glass of milk or a milky hot chocolate or coffee with it because both are high in protein which boosts your brain power. Eggs are also rich in vitamins B6 and B12 to improve concentration and memory. You could try using free-range or organic eggs to make a quick omelette. Simply grease a frying pan, put in your beaten eggs, cook, add cheese or chopped herbs such as parsley or chives, fold your omelette and serve. Another favourite is scrambled eggs, or huevos revueltos as they are called in Spain. Again, beat the eggs – you can add milk if you wish – and cook in a small, greased pan. Stir the eggs so they scramble. You can add anything you wish such as tomatoes, cheese, mushrooms, or a little chilli if you want to spice it up a little.
Oily fish is rich in omega-3 fats in the form of EPA (essential fatty acids) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) so include salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, herrings, sardines, pilchards and kippers in your diet. Low DHA levels have reportedly been linked to an increased risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s or memory loss. You could have a grilled kipper for breakfast or try tinned sardines in tomato sauce on toast for a snack, if you aren’t too keen on oily fish. Otherwise, just grill or pan-fry your fish and serve with salad or new potatoes and greens, especially spinach or broccoli to get even more brainy food inside you.
In Mediterranean countries fish cooked in vinegar or citrus juice with paprika or saffron is a popular and tasty way to eat fish. It’s called ‘escabeche’ and you can find it in restaurants or canned fish such as mackerel, tuna and sardines.
For non-fish eaters, we would suggest flaxseed, soya beans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, linseed and chia or take an omega-3 supplement.
Popeye knows best
Spinach doesn’t just give you muscles, it also boosts your brain-power. Dark-coloured vegetables like spinach, broccoli and beans are great for learning, concentration and memory. You can add them to stir-frys or they make great, warming soups.
Broad beans, which are found in abundance in Spain and the UK, are packed with nutrients including fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorus and folate. A lack of iron can lead to low productivity, poor memory and apathy so it’s advisable to tuck into broad beans. Habas con jamon (broad beans with ham) is a tasty tapas or side dish. Fry up chopped onion, add ham and garlic. Once the ham starts to brown, add the beans and a glass of white wine. Cook for 10 minutes, then add a large glass of vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes. This is lovely reheated the following day so you can make extra.
Sage can be used as an essential oil or sprinkle some fresh sage to your savoury dishes. Just add it to the end of your cooking to protect the oils it contains. Sage, which means wise, improves memory and concentration. It has a strong flavour, so don’t go overboard. Sage and onion stuffing goes well with poultry such as turkey or chicken or you can add sage butter to gnocchi, pasta or fish. Otherwise freeze chopped sage in ice cubes for summer drinks, such as Pimms or sangria, or make sage tea.
Snack to it
If your energy levels are flagging, top snacking fruits to tuck into are apples, bananas, avocados and berries, especially blueberries. Nuts and seeds are great to munch on too as they are rich in different nutrients. You can wash it down with a cup of coffee as the Italian Longitudinal Study on Ageing found people who regularly drink one cup of coffee a day were in better mental shape than those with more erratic coffee habits.