Tuesday, 22 January 2013

5 Brain Foods You’re Not Eating, But Should Be

1. Green tea.
The next time you visit your local coffee shop, opt for a cup of this nutrient- rich beverage rather than your usual java regular. A recent study examining the neural effects of green tea extract on brain activation patterns found that subjects who were administered 250-500mL of a milk whey-based green tea containing soft drink while performing a working memory task had increased activation in their dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) compared to controls1. Because the DLPFC is a key area known to mediate working memory, the study suggests that green tea extract may enhance brain engagement during cognitive processes; thus having preventative implications in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Avocados.
Contrary to popular belief, avocados are not the anti-fruit to avoid for the mere sake of a slimmer figure. Although their delicious creamy texture is a result of their relatively higher fat content, these fats are actually composed of healthy monounstaturated fatty acids which are known to decrease the risk of hypertension2. Previously, hypertension has been linked to cognitive decline among the late to middle- aged population3. Furthermore, high monounsaturated fatty acid intake—such as in the Mediterranean diet—has been found to protect against age-related cognitive decline4.
3. Soybeans.
Thirsty? Try relieving a dry throat with soy milk. A recently published study reported soybean peptides to be associated with an increase in plasma dopamine levels5. Dopamine has several important implications in behavior, cognition, and reward-driven learning. The same study also found soybeans to have an immunomodulatory effect that can improve stress hormone unbalance, brain circulation, and energy metabolism when coupled with neurological responses. Here,the brain and the immune system are thought to “converse with each other” to maintain homeostasis, although the exact mechanism has yet to be elucidated.
4. Sweet potatoes.
Although this food item typically appears on special occasions such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, this need not be the case. Sweet potatoes are abundant in carotenoids which give it its rich orange color6. Because carotenoids function as both anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, intake of dietary components rich in carotenoids may help improve cognitive functioning in the elderly. Indeed, previous research studies have shown that low plasma concentration in carotenoids is associated with cognitive decline7 or mild cognitive impairment8. This leads to speculations that high plasma levels of carotenoids may produce the desired opposite effect.
5. Dark chocolate.
Yes, it’s true! Dark chocolate may have beneficial effects to the brain. A recent double-blind study examined the effect of cocoa flavanols consumption in 90 elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment9. The dietary intervention randomized participants into three groups, each to consume once daily for 8 weeks a drink containing ≈990 mg (high flavanols), ≈520 mg (intermediate flavanols), or ≈45 mg (low flavanols) of cocoa flavanols per day. The study concluded that the regular consumption of cocoa flavanols might be effective in improving cognitive function in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment, including areas of verbal fluency, executive function, and cognitive flexibility.
Although all foods should be consumed in moderation, these studies give you a slight reason to eliminate some guilt when indulging in “fatty” avocados, “starchy” sweet potatoes, or “sugary” dark chocolates. After all, not only will they satisfy your hungry stomach, but they may also provide you with that mental punch to improve cognitive performance. So let’s crack open that chocolate bar and celebrate its potential to power your brain!

Post Comment


  1. How long do i need to eat dis for?

  2. I eat dark chocolate alot. would that help or i need to eat everything?

  3. I dont like the taste of soybean, what can i replace with?

  4. what does the 5 food do to your brain?

  5. Good one, i try it before and it work for me.