It’s undeniable that healthy eating and activity provide endless benefits to our bodies and well being, but what can we do to boost our brain power? Duties like school and work require enormous amounts of brain power so it’s important to refuel your brain. Focus on the foods below to boost your brain power this fall and for the rest of your life.

1. Berries (i.e. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries) have many beneficial effects on our brain. As we grow up, damaged cells begin to accumulate in our brain which can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Research suggests that the polyphenol compounds in berries play a role in protecting our brains by cleaning up these cells. There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that the micronutrients and fiber in berries help preserve normal blood function and flow to the brain. Our brain uses nearly 20% of the blood in our body, so proper circulation is imperative.

Recipe idea: Enjoy a handful of (fresh or frozen) berries as a snack, sprinkled on top of plain yogurt, or smashed on top of toast.

2. Cruciferous Vegetables (i.e. cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts) contain a variety of brain-boosting vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Eating these vegetables may help you fight against oxidative stress, which occurs when there is an overload of harmful molecules called oxygen-free radicals generated by the body.

Recipe Idea: Enjoy cruciferous vegetables in salads or soups, raw with yogurt dip, or roasted with parmesan cheese and spices.

3. Fish (i.e. salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, and smelt) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. These fishy properties help enhance focus by bolstering the communication between your brain cells.

Recipe Idea: Try a seaweed taco. Using seaweed wrappers, layer salmon, cucumber and avocado and roll it up like a taco. Try having fish instead of other meat at dinner two nights a week.

4. Beans (i.e. kidney beans, black beans, chick peas, white northern beans, etc.) contain glucose which is the primary source of fuel for the brain. Many other foods contain glucose, but beans are special because of their ability to control or stabilize the amount of energy received by the body. In other words, beans give you long-lasting energy opposed to the quick sugar-rush that other glucose rich foods give you like white bread and white rice.

Recipe Idea: Enjoy beans mixed in your salads and soups. You can make a bean spread for sandwiches by blending garbanzo beans, lemon juice, salt and water.

5. Nuts and seeds (i.e. walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds), like fish, contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids called alpha linoleic acid (ALA) that also play an important role in brain health. These fatty acids help prevent blood clots and make it easier for oxygen-rich blood to reach and refuel your brain.

Recipe idea: Enjoy nuts and seeds in your oatmeal or added to a handful of homemade yellow light cereal trail mix.

There’s one more thing that will boost your brain power, but it’s not food. Water is essential in helping your brain do it’s job. In fact, 75% of your brain is made up of water so dehydration can have a big impact on your brain’s ability to function!

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