The 10 Best Foods for Your Brain

Stay sharp with this shopping list.

The 10 Best Foods for Your Brain

Stay sharp with this shopping list.

You eat for your heart. You eat for your muscles. Hell, you probably even eat for your penis. But why aren’t you eating for arguably the most important body part of all?

That’s right: your noggin.

In today’s day and age, everyone could use a little help staying sharp and being more productive. That’s why we’ve compiled the ten best foods—from snacks to your favorite cut of meat—that will boost your memory, improve your motor skills, and even help beat back depression. So if you’re ready to become a better multitasker, take notes. And while you’re rethinking your diet, don’t miss our plan for Staying Lean for Life.


Dark or leafy greens contain high levels of folate and vitamin B12, which may protect the brain against dementia. Researchers from Tufts and Boston universities observed subjects in the famous Framingham Heart Study and found those with high levels of homocysteine had nearly double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. High homocysteine is associated with low levels of folate and vitamins B6 and B12, leading researchers to speculate that getting more B vitamins may be protective. Bonus: spinach is one of the foods that will keep you young forever.


These dried fruits are loaded with the element boron. USDA researchers found that subjects taking in at least 3.2 milligrams of boron a day performed 10 percent better on attention and memory tests. (Apples and nuts pack the stuff, too.) Eating more raisins is also a great way to keep your blood pressure down.


This fowl contains the amino acid tyrosine, which has been shown to help the brain maintain levels of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter to memory. U.S. military researchers found that soldiers did better on a multitasking and memory test when they’d consumed a food rich in tyrosine an hour earlier. If you’re looking for a great recipe, try our Tangy Turkey Sandwich.


Dark-colored fruits and vegetables, especially blueberries, strawberries, and spinach, are high in antioxidants. In research on rats at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, James Joseph, Ph.D., found that older rats fed blueberry extract had improved short-term memory and motor skills. And, for the record, if you’re over 45, you definitely need more blueberries in your diet.


These nuts are rich in vitamin E. A National Institutes of Health study found that the antioxidative properties of vitamin E reduce deterioration in the brain as you age. Just 2 ounces of almonds contain your recommended daily intake of E.


The best types are cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, tuna, and mackerel. They contain more omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in brain function. These fish get their omega-3s by eating algae, other fish, and a particular plankton that lives in cold water. Scientists have also found that omega-3 fatty acids contained in certain oily fish can decrease the symptoms of depression.


They are one of the richest sources of choline, a nutrient that may improve memory. Studies have shown that college students who received 3 or 4 grams of choline 1 hour before taking memory tests scored higher than those who didn’t take choline.


In one study, British researchers found that consuming the caffeine equivalent of 1 cup of coffee improved attention and problem-solving skills. Upgrade your at-home coffee game with one of these 15 Best Coffee Makers on the Planet.


University of Toronto researchers recently determined that eating carbohydrate-rich foods like oatmeal is equivalent to a shot of glucose, a.k.a. blood sugar, injected into your brain. According to the study, the higher the concentration of glucose in your blood, the better your memory and concentration.


Swiss researchers discovered that of three different breakfast types—high-carbohydrate, high-protein, and a balance of both—the high-protein meal helped men score better on a computer memory test (similar to the electronic game Simon). “Short-term memory can be better after a protein-rich meal because the food increases your levels of the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine,” says Karina Fischer, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. Bonus: here’s how to Cook a Steak at Home Like a Pro.

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