Medically reviewed by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Learn the best foods for brain health and staying sharp. A lot of brain nutrition and what you can do to benefit brain health comes down to what food for memory you eat!
Trying to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia as you get older? Want tips to help improve your focus and energy? The answer may be as simple as nutrition and your diet. Try these foods that help with memory and your brain cells, right now.
How Food Can Help Your Brain Health
Have you ever noticed that a walnut looks like the human brain? Go look! It's fascinating how much the two resemble each other, and it's even more amazing that walnuts actually do help your brain. The food nerd in me just loves this.
Many foods in addition to walnuts can benefit brain health, just like many foods can improve heart health. Foods help brain health by reducing
inflammation and providing antioxidants, vitamins, and other important nutrients. What does this mean? Well, for one thing, your next meal or snack can get you one step closer to having a sharper
I don't know about you, but I want to do everything I can to help my brain age healthfully—so I have the best shot at having a healthy mind as I get older. Not only does eating healthier make me feel good and give me more energy, it also helps me stay focused and feel young. Read through these tips that follow to find the best brain nutrition foods, then check out more ways to eat healthier.
I was excited to read a study in Neurology shows that eating a healthy diet—including vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, soy protein (like tofu), whole grains, moderate amounts of red meat and a low intake of alcohol and deep-fried foods (like French fries)—may help your brain go stronger as you get older. By the way, this is essentially the description of the Mediterranean diet!
The researchers, from all over the world (the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and the United Kingdom), studied 27,860 women and men from 40 countries, age 55 and older. For four-plus years, the volunteers' cognitive decline was monitored.
The findings: The folks who ate a healthier diet were significantly less likely to experience cognitive decline and scored higher on a cognitive test evaluating attention, registration (recalling prompts without repeating them), copying, calculation and writing.
Subjects with the healthiest diet were slightly older, had a lower BMI, got more exercise and were less likely to smoke. These are pretty stunning findings!
The researchers say a nutritious diet may help reduce stroke risk and inflammation (which may help prevent cancer) and lower blood pressure. However, more research needs to be done to determine how a healthy diet protects the brain. With this information, I’ll continue eating healthy foods to help protect my memory as I get older!
Brain-Boosting Foods That Will Keep You Sharp
From exercise to crossword puzzles, countless tricks and tips can help keep you focused and energized—and improve your memory. I also want to tell you about the top foods for brain health.
A healthy brain food diet includes a diet that's a rich source of fruits and vegetables, as well as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. You'll also want to make sure you reach for leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. These foods not only benefit brain function but may also help decrease blood pressure. So to recap, focus on eating the below foods for brain health:
- fatty fish
- whole grains
- dark chocolate
And research suggests that antioxidant-rich food such as produce help target free radicals, lower oxidative stress, and help improve blood flow in the body. These antioxidants may help improve brain health and help prevent cognitive decline.
Of course, if you have a specific health condition you may want to seek additional medical advice from your healthcare practitioner.
Tips to Make Brain Health Foods Taste Better
Now that we've talked about what to eat for improved cognition and to help keep your brain healthy, let's chat a bit about vegetables, one of the top brain health foods.
What are vegetables good for? If you guessed practically everything health related, you're right! Did you know they help keep your mind sharp, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties? Plus, vegetables provide lots of vitamins and minerals, and research shows that eating a nutritious diet including veggies helps maintain a healthy weight.
If you don't like the way they taste or are feeling burnt out with salad, use these dietitian tips to make vegetables taste better that I feature on the blog to make those greens appeal to your tastebuds. Then whip up my grilled asparagus with lemon rub that's perfect for spring!
Amy's Brain-Helping Recipe to Try
You'll love this recipe: Protein-Rich Cherry French Toast!
Do you wonder, "are eggs healthy?" Despite what the news might tell you, eggs aren't just OK to eat, they're also one of the best foods for brain health. I eat them on the daily.
Here's my current fave way to eat them: on top of French toast. That way you can skip the butter or syrup! Why is protein great at breakfast? Find out everything you need to know about protein.
This blog post was updated in June 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on
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What do you think about this list of the best foods for brain function? Which ones are already on your shopping list?
Want to go shopping with a dietitian? Here's your chance! I just opened up my very own storefront, full of my fave tip sheets, cookbooks, kitchen products, and more! Check it out!