A Harvard nutritionist and brain expert shares the 5 foods she eats every day to sharpen her memory and focus
As a dietitian, I always tell people to think of the brain as the mastermind behind almost everything — our thoughts, memory, focus, movements, breathing, heartbeat — and that certain foods can help make it stronger, sharper and smarter.
Our brain and diet also play a key role in longevity. According to the National Institute on Aging, what we eat can directly impact inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies — both of which can affect our risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
I spoke with Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist, faculty member at Harvard Medical School and author of “This Is Your Brain on Food,” about what she eats to sharpen her memory, focus and overall brain health:
Extra dark chocolate
“Extra dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and cacao flavanols that help preserve the health of brain cells,” Naidoo tells CNBC Make It. “It also contains fibre to help reduce brain inflammation and prevent cognitive decline.”
A 2020 study looked at how dark chocolate and white chocolate can affect the memory of healthy young adults. Participants who were given dark chocolate had better verbal memory performances two hours after consuming the chocolate, compared to the group that received white chocolate.
Researchers suggested this was due to the higher flavonoid content of the dark chocolate, “which can acutely improve cognitive function in humans.”
Extra dark chocolate should be at least 70% cacao or greater, according to Naidoo.
Just don’t go overboard with the serving sizes, she says: “One meta-analysis suggests that the optimal amount of dark chocolate consumption for the health of our blood vessels — including the ones that supply blood to the brain — is about 45 grams per week.”
“Berries are packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients, fibre, vitamins and minerals,” says Naidoo. “These nutrients help retain memory, and the fibre content helps feed microbes in the gut to reduce brain inflammation.”
She suggests choosing from an assortment of red, blue and black-coloured berries. Strawberries, for example, are rich in flavonoids and may help slow down cognitive decline; blueberries contain different types of flavonoids linked with preventing oxidative stress; and blackberries are great sources of antioxidants, which help brain cell health.
Continue reading the full and original article from: Make It
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