Best and Worst Brain Foods ( Part A)
Eat This, Not That
If you want to make the right decisions in confusing times—Time to refinance? Explore a different career? Root for the singing spinster or the 12-year-old?—you need to pay special attention to what you eat. That’s right: Your grocery list can help with your to-do list. That’s because the right foods are a kind of clean-burning fuel for your body’s biggest energy hog: Your brain. A study in the Journal of Physiology makes the point that, though your brain represents only 2 percent of your body weight, it makes 20 percent of the energy demands on your resting metabolism.
On our new Eat This, Not That! we rounded up the best foods to munch on when you need a mental boost—and found studies that show, in fact, that you can be up to 200 percent more productive if you make the right eating choices. Stock up on these items to halt mental decline, jog your memory, sharpen your senses, improve your performance, activate your feel-good hormones, and protect your quick-witted sharpness, whether you’re 15, 40—or not admitting to any age whatsoever!
1. FOR SHORT-TERM MEMORYDrink This: COFFEE
Fresh-brewed joe is the ultimate brain fuel.
Caffeine has been shown to retard the aging process and enhance short-term memory performance.
In one study, British researchers found that just one cup of coffee helps improve attention and problem-solving skills.
Not That!: ENERGY DRINKS/TOO MUCH COFFEE
Ever heard of the concept “too much of a good thing”? If you OD on caffeine—too many cups, a jolt of caf from the late afternoon onward, a Red Bull cocktail—it can mess with your shuteye schedule. Sleep is reboot time for your mental computer
, and you don’t want to mess with it.
2. FOR LONG-TERM MEMORY
Eat This!: BLUEBERRIES
Antioxidants in blueberries help protect the brain from free-radical damage and cut your risk of Alzheimer’s
They can also improve cognitive processing (translation: thinking). Wild blueberries, if you can find them, have even more brain-boosting antioxidants than the cultivated variety, so book that vacation in Maine now. The berries will ripen in July.
Not That!: THE UNRIPE AND UNREADY
Here’s a cool tip: if your favorite berries are out of season, buy them frozen. The freezer locks in peak flavor and nutrients, so the berries’ antioxidant capacity is maxed out. Those pale, tough, and expensive off-season berries usually ripen on a truck, rather than on the bush, so they’re nutritional imposters compared to the real thing.
3. TO THINK FASTER:
Eat This!: SALMON OR MACKEREL
If the Internal Revenue Service picks you for some up-close-and-personal auditing, you’ll want to be on your toes when they vet your deductions list. So put salmon or mackerel on the grocery list.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fishes are a primary building block of brain tissue, so they’ll amp up your thinking power.
Salmon is also rich in niacin, which can help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and slow the rate of cognitive decline.
Not That!: FULL-FAT ICE CREAM
Not all fats are created equal: Beware foods high in saturated fats, which can clog blood vessels and prevent the flow of nutrients and blood to the brain. Ice cream is not a brain-health food.
Author: by David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding
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