You can have both! Here are six foods that improve memory, concentration and brain function --- that also benefit your skin and hair! What better than having beauty AND brains all in one!
Oats are a great source of fiber, which is a healthy carbohydrate that provides a long lasting source of energy for your brain. The fiber in oatmeal helps with satiety, so that you feel full longer and avoid sugar cravings. Eating breakfast improves your short-term memory throughout the day, and is a great source of the minerals iron, zinc and manganese. Iron is important for hemoglobin formation in red blood cells, which carry oxygen to cells all throughout your body; without it you would feel fatigued and sluggish. Manganese is needed for enzyme structure, metabolism and proper growth. Zinc is needed for cell reproduction and tissue growth and repair, thus it’s essential for beautiful, healthy skin. Try oatmeal with fresh or frozen berries for a sweet taste and cell-protecting, skin-improving antioxidants.
Blueberries are packed full of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins that give these berries their deep, blue color. Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals in the body that would otherwise cause damage to cell DNA. By protecting the cells from damage, they help prevent cancer formation. One cup of blueberries has about ¼ of your daily value of vitamin C, which functions as antioxidants as well. Vitamin C is not only needed for a healthy immune system, but for collagen formation as well, hence it is important for smooth, firm skin. The antioxidants in blueberries help boost memory by activating brain-protective enzymes, and some research indicates that they may even improve long-term memory function and may help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Try eating fresh blueberries raw, or by adding them into a smoothie or maybe on top of that morning oatmeal.
The Omega 3 fatty acids in salmon support brain function and concentration. The brain is about 60% fat, and although fat gets bad rap, there are healthy fats like omega 3’s that are important for fluid cell membranes, nerve axon sheaths and neural transmission, reducing inflammation, increasing blood flow to the brain and even improving symptoms of depression. The DHA and EPA forms found in fish are particularly beneficial in brain function. Salmon is a great source of these fatty acids, as well as a significant amount of protein, about 40g in half a fillet! It contains some valuable nutrients, such as B-complex vitamins, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. These nutrients are needed for hundreds of functions in the body, including energy metabolism, cellular function, bone health and electrolyte balance.
Once again, the healthy fats in avocado help the brain function properly and increase concentration abilities. The monounsaturated fats are good for lowering blood pressure and preventing heart failure. Avocados have also been shown to help with nutrient absorption, and 1 fruit has about half you daily value of fiber. They contain powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C, which can help prevent aging, cancer and heart disease. Avocados are also a great source of vitamin E, K and various B vitamins, as well as potassium. Along with the skin firming and rejuvenating vitamin C, the vitamin E and healthy fats help moisturize skin and hair, so it’s a great beauty food.
Green tea has come up in some promising studies in Europe. The research indicates positive benefits in improving cognitive function and memory. Green tea naturally contains caffeine and L-theanine, which may have anti-anxiety, brain function, concentration, and mood boosting effects. It’s also packed full of antioxidants, including the powerful epigallocatechin (EGCG), which may be responsible for many of its health benefits.
Wanting something sweet, but healthy too? Dark chocolate, preferably with 65% cacao or higher, is a great option. Dark chocolate contains naturally occurring caffeine and theobromine, that work as a natural stimulant to help you focus. It also has been shown to promote serotonin production, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for that calm, feel-good feeling. Dark chocolate with high cacao content contains antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavanols and catechins. Dark chocolate contains several nutrients, including fiber, iron, magnesium, and copper. There is also growing evidence to support dark chocolate as a heart healthy food that increases good HDL cholesterol, lowers bad LDL cholesterol and helps prevent cardiovascular disease. A small piece (about 1/4 a bar) is plenty, and a great treat at the end of a workday.