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Foods for brain health

Food can play a big part in brain function

This article was last updated on June 21, 2023. 

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Even though experts estimate that more than six million Americans are currently living with the disease External Site, there’s still much to be learned about what lifestyle factors might contribute to Alzheimer’s disease or general mental decline.

How to use food for brain power and memory

One thing you do every day may play a big part in how your brain functions and that's what you eat.

Studies show that eating a heart-healthy diet External Site may benefit both your body and your brain. In general, these diets are low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. Brain-boosting diets also focus on whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts.

Want to give your brain a boost? Try these 15 foods that are proven to help boost memory, mood, concentration and overall clarity External Link.

List of brain-boosting foods

chart to quickly demonstrate the 15 best brain-boosting foods, which are blueberries, eggs, strawberries, spinach, coffee, chocolate, beans, flaxseed, nuts, broccoli, carrots, wild salmon, avocados, raspberries, and bell peppers
  • Blueberries

    They are rich in antioxidants that help keep cells healthy. Regular consumption improves memory and can reverse age-related decline External Link in motor function, balance and coordination. To add blueberries to your diet, top off your oatmeal with fresh or frozen berries.

  • Spinach

    Dark green vegetables have been shown to slow development of dementia in women. Give it a try with this recipe for a strawberry spinach salad.

  • Flaxseed

    Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed contains healthy fats that help your brain function External Link. Try it mixed into oatmeal, smoothies or homemade protein bars.

  • Wild salmon

    Wild-caught salmon contains less fat and more protein than farm-raised salmon. It's also rich in omega-3 fatty acids External Link, which help your brain increase its learning, memory, cognitive well-being and blood flow. Work it into your diet tonight with a recipe for wild salmon with avocado salsa.

  • Eggs

    Egg yolks are rich in choline, a nutrient that improves memory and minimizes fatigue.

  • Coffee

    A daily cup of joe is good for your brain because it contains antioxidants and typically caffeine External Link. Drink in moderation and stay away from sweeteners and fatty products.

  • Nuts

    Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, while almonds contain natural mood-enhancing neurotransmitters. But, don’t go nuts — a handful a day will do you good.

  • Avocados

    Nearly as good for your brain as blueberries, avocados contain healthy fats that promote blood flow, keeping your mind functioning at its peak. Throw a few slices on your next salad or sandwich.

  • Dark Chocolate

    Yes, something so good can really be good for you. In fact, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants. A daily dose can improve mood, focus and concentration.

  • Broccoli

    High in vitamin K, broccoli has been shown to improve memory function and slow the aging process.

  • Raspberries

    A raspberry is one of the most antioxidant-rich berries you will find. Foods that are rich in antioxidants help fight cell damage and inflammation.

  • Strawberries

    Like raspberries and blueberries, strawberries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

  • Beans

    Legumes can raise alertness and stimulate nerve impulses in the brain. Whoever said desserts can't be healthy, hasn't tried these black bean brownies. Packed with brain-boosting black beans, yet perfectly sweet, they make a great treat that won't leave you feeling guilty.

  • Carrots

    Carrots reduce inflammation and prevent memory loss.

  • Bell peppers

    Red, yellow, green and orange — they are all known for their antioxidant properties, considered necessary for optimal brain function.

  • Still need more healthy, brain-boosting inspiration?

    Check out our library of recipes here on Blue. You'll find a variety of options to help make your meal plan quicker and easier — no matter your taste, budget and health goals.

While it's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid ultra-processed foods for optimal brain health External Link, there's no way to completely prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease through the foods you eat. If you're concerned about age-related changes or potential symptoms of Alzheimer's disease you or a loved one are experiencing, talk to a primary care provider.