Looking to boost your mental sharpness? Take stock of the foods in your kitchen. Some of them might just have the ability to reduce inflammation, improve your memory, and keep your concentration at its peak. Check out these top brain boosters for a delicious treat.
Chocolate fuels the ‘focus hormone.’
Craving a tasty chocolate treat? Go for it! Harvard researchers say savoring 2 ounces of dark chocolate will fire up your focus and mental energy for two and a half hours — and enjoying this good-for-you sweet daily can cut brain aging by 40 percent. Thanks goes to a cocoa compound, theobromine, which kick-starts the production of the energizing brain hormone dopamine.
Cheese fires up cranial nerves.
Eating 3 ounces of cheese (or 2 cups of milk or yogurt) daily will sharpen your focus and concentration by as much as 40 percent in three weeks. That’s the word from University of Maine scientists, who say dairy’s unique blend of calcium and whey protein energizes brain nerves and slows their aging. Good news: Lactose-free milk, cheese and yogurt are also rich in these brain-boosting nutrients.
Eggplant activates the memory region.
If go-go-go days make you feel scattered or foggy, just including half a cup of eggplant in your daily diet could sharpen your focus, memory and concentration in as little as one week. So say researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who found that eggplants brim with nanusin, a rare compound that stimulates neurons in the memory center of the brain (the cerebral cortex). As an added tip, pick baby eggplants for a sweeter flavor, softer seeds and a creamier texture.
Pumpkin calms the anxiety center.
Adding 2 1/2 cups of pumpkin to your weekly diet can keep you 45 percent more clearheaded and calm, say UCLA researchers, who credit pumpkin pigments with soothing the brain’s anxiety center and boosting levels of focus-enhancing serotonin. Wondering how to add this squash into day-to-day life? Toss pumpkin cubes into pasta, soup or oatmeal.
Walnuts clear out brain-aging wastes.
Nibbling on 14 walnut halves daily could heighten focus, short-term memory and multitasking ability by 45 percent, plus cut dementia risk by 58 percent, Japanese studies show. Credit walnuts’ polyphenols and alpha-linolenic acid, which speed the breakdown of wastes, plus help neurons absorb a steady trickle of energizing glucose.
Eggs bolster the prefrontal cortex.
Egg yolks contain the nutrients lutein and choline which energize the prefrontal cortex, a key area of the brain that helps you organize, think ahead and express yourself clearly. No wonder researchers at Florida International University say that enjoying two eggs daily can cut your risk of foggy thinking and memory lapses by 55 percent. Cook them anyway you like to reap the benefits.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for Women.