What we eat impacts our cognitive health. In other words, certain brain foods are really good for our minds. They can help us to concentrate, as well as aiding memory and helping emotional wellbeing at work.
The Wellness Crew are a Dublin based team offering employee wellness programmes and providing expert HR advice on all aspects of corporate wellness. They tailor make wellness packages across four key pillars: Food, Fitness, Mental Health and Finance. Here are their top 10 foods for a healthy mind.
Rich in vitamins E and K which help to keep our blood flowing to the brain, avocados are also a good source of protein and healthy fats, helping to support energy and concentration for longer. Try adding half an avocado to a smoothie to add creaminess and boost brain power.
2. Natural Yoghurt
The beneficial bacteria found in natural yoghurt may change the way our brains react to our environment and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. Avoid sugar-laden fruit and low-fat yoghurts and opt for natural yoghurt instead. Add fruit, a sprinkle of cinnamon or a drizzle of maple syrup for a hint of sweetness.
Small but powerful, these little fruit pack a real punch. Eaten regularly, they have been shown to improve memory and prevent memory loss. Use in a smoothie or add a handful to some natural yoghurt for a brain-boosting snack.
The nitrates found naturally in beetroot help boost blood flow to the brain, supporting brain function. Avoid jarred beetroot in vinegar and opt for vacuum packed or fresh beetroot, a great addition to a salad.
One of the few plant-based sources of omega 3 and a good source of brain-supporting vitamin E, walnuts can help to support mental alertness. Add a palmful to your breakfast cereal or a salad or eat with a piece of fruit as a healthy snack.
6. Extra virgin olive oil
Antioxidants called polyphenols found in good quality extra virgin olive oil may help learning and memory and protect our brains from the development of Alzheimer’s. Don’t use your extra virgin oil to fry foods though, as the high heat can negate any health benefits.
Oily fish like salmon are a great source of omega 3 fats, which help support neuron function and keep our brains healthy in the long term. If fresh salmon is hard to come by, try tinned salmon, mackerel or even sardines.
This yellow spice contains curcumin, a powerful natural anti-inflammatory that supports oxygen uptake in the brain, keeping us alert. Add to soups, curries and casseroles or join the hipsters and try a turmeric latte instead of a cup of coffee.
9. Dark chocolate
It’s official! Chocolate can be good for us, although the health benefits are limited to dark chocolate. A portion contains a small amount of caffeine, helping us to stay alert. It’s also a source of stress-busting magnesium.
OK, it’s not a food, but our brains really need water to function at their best. Even a 5% drop in hydration levels can impair memory and concentration and this can easily happen in a warm office. Support your concentration by drinking 7 or 8 glasses of water throughout the day, more if you are exercising.