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Published on: May 15, 2013
by Sally Rummel for TC Times:
If you’re making lists to help you remember all that you have to do in a day, the most important list by far is your grocery list.
That’s because the food you buy at the grocery store will actually help you “supercharge” your brain, if you make the right choices. Even as people age chronologically, we can maintain a healthy brain into “old age” by adding these smart foods to our daily diets.
Not surprisingly, women and men require different foods, because there are clear differences between male and female brains.
In general, women’s brains are more active than men’s brains, according to a study of 46,000 brain scans involving about 26,000 patients. Foods that increase serotonin are critical for women, for help with relaxation and anti-anxiety and depression.
Men need higher protein foods, to increase dopamine for better focus and impulse control. Protein also provides fuel for a man’s greater muscle mass.
Best ‘smart’ foods for women
• Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) — they increase the production of serotonin, and are high in nutrients and fiber (12 grams of fiber per one-cup serving). Fiber slows the body’s absorption of sugars, prevents sharp spikes in insulin and helps the brain work at optimal levels.
• Sweet potatoes — they are a “smart” carbohydrate that causes a gradual increase in serotonin, are high in vitamin C and fiber and don’t raise blood sugar/insulin as quickly as white potatoes.
• Blueberries — they’re called “brain berries” because they are such a concentrated source of flavonoids and other antioxidants that reduce brain inflammation. This is important for good mood and memory. Other berries also provide benefits, but blueberries are the best choice for brain function.
• Dark chocolate — it’s one of the healthiest foods a person can eat because it increases the levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates arteries throughout the body, including the brain. It can also improve mood and energy. Because it’s high in antioxidants, it reduces “oxidative stress” that can impair memory and other brain functions. About one-half to one ounce provides all the benefits needed.
Best ‘smart’ foods for men
• Salmon — men who eat fatty fish with docosalhexaenoic acid (DHA), one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish, have less brain inflammation that can impair the transmission of nerve signals. Elderly adults who got more DHA had improvements in memory and learning, in a study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
• Eggs — they are an excellent source of protein and high in vitamin B-12, which can reduce age-related brain shrinkage and improve cognitive function.
• Sesame seeds and Brazil nuts — in addition to increasing dopamine, they contain antioxidants that protect brain cells. Like other nuts and seeds, they’re high in protein and monounsaturated fats that reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol. Nuts and seeds are as good for the heart as well as the brain.
Five other ‘super’ foods for your brain:
1. Avocados — they’re almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health. This monounsaturated fat contributes to healthy blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
2. Whole grains — they promote cardiovascular health, promoting good flow to the organ system, including the brain.
3. Beans — they stabilize blood sugar levels. The brain is dependent on glucose for fuel and since it can’t store the glucose, it relies on a steady stream of energy, which beans provide.
4. Pomegranate juice — this offers potent antioxidant benefits, and can be enjoyed in small amounts, about 2 ounces a day, diluted with spring water or seltzer.
5. Freshly brewed tea — two to three cups a day, either iced or hot, contains a modest amount of caffeine, which can boost brain power by enhancing memory, focus and mood. It also has potent antioxidants which promotes healthy blood flow. It has to be freshly brewed, not bottled or powdered.
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