FOODS THAT FUEL YOUR BRAIN
What if you could eat your way to better cognitive function? Enter the MIND diet. In a study, participants slowed their rate of cognitive decline by 7.5 years through the MIND diet, a combination of Mediterranean and DASH (Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), that nourishes and protects the brain.
Leafy GreensHow Much To Eat: At least 6 servings per week
Spinach, kale, cabbage, watercress, Romaine lettuce, arugula or rocket – these are some examples of leafy green vegetables that are easily available at your local markets and supermarkets. Load up on them to benefit from nutrients like vitamin K and folate.
VegetablesHow Much To Eat: At least 1 servings a day
Besides leafy greens, aim to eat at least one other vegetable each day. Note that root vegetables have higher starch content and can cause your blood sugar to spike. If that’s of concern, opt for more cruciferous vegetables like asparagus, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumber.
NutsHow Much To Eat:5 servings a week
They are high in fat (but the good kind) and are a good source of vitamin E, which is why nuts are great fuel for the brain. Note though that most also contain a certain amount of sugar and are high in calories so make sure you watch how much you’re eating. What nuts should you snack on? Here’s a guide.
BerriesHow Much To Eat:2 servings a week
Besides being rich in phytonutrients like flavonoids and antioxidants, berries have among the lowest GI among fruits so they won’t disrupt your blood sugar balance. The best time to eat berries (or any fruits, for that matter) is first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach so that the body can fully absorb all their benefits.
BeansHow Much To Eat:3 servings a week
Lentils, soy beans, chickpeas, edamame, kidney beans, black beans, red and green beans … there’s a wide variety for you to choose from and so many different ways to enjoy them. Hummus, tofu and tempeh are among the most popular and versatile bean-based food that are easy to incorporate into your meals.
Whole GrainsHow Much To Eat:3 servings a day
They’re rich in fibre and release glucose slowly, thereby promoting better concentration and focus. Oatmeal, quinoa, millet, barley, bulgur wheat and buckwheat are examples of whole grains. Are you one of those who can’t go by a day without eating rice? For a start, swap white rice for brown rice and you’re on your way to better brain health.
Fatty fishHow Much To Eat:At least 1 serving a week
Omega-3 fatty acids fuel the brain and can be found in fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. But you need to check the source – farmed fish won’t give you the same level of nutrient as wild-caught fish. Always aim for the latter whenever you can.
PoultryHow Much To Eat:2 servings a week
Chicken is the most commonly eaten poultry so you shouldn’t have trouble fulfilling the recommended amount per week. Just watch how you’re cooking it – if you must have fried chicken, try to limit it to no more than one serving a week. Also, aim to expand your palate to include other poultry such as duck, goose, quail, and turkey.
Olive OilHow Much To Eat: Use as daily cooking oil
The Mediterranean diet emphasises the use of olive oil as it’s a healthy fat and contains vitamin E, which is good for the brain. Use light olive oils for cooking and extra virgin olive oil as dressing or dips. Here’s a more detailed guide on choosing the right cooking oils.
Red wineHow Much To Drink:1 servings a day
Wine is part of the MIND diet because it contains polyphenol, a type of micronutrient that is good for the brain as well as the heart, people with diabetes, and aids in weight management. But remember that alcohol is not a zero-calorie drink; if your intake of calories exceeds what your body needs, that could lead to obesity. If you do want to include red wine as part of your daily diet, keep it to just one glass a day.