Boost Your Brainpower With These 5 Foods
Fresh-picked fruit and vegetables are at your fingertips at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Farmer's Market.

Boost Your Brainpower with these 5 Foods

If you want to improve your memory and concentration (and who doesn’t?) the first step is eating right. More specifically, certain foods have been shown to help you think clearly and stay alert, and may protect the brain from age-related decline.

Try eating more of these 5 foods to boost brainpower.

1. Chocolate. That’s right, chocolate’s not a sneaky indulgence anymore. The antioxidants in chocolate have proven anti-inflammatory effects, enhancing focus and boosting mood. More specifically, research shows that chocolate aids in blood vessel dilation, increasing blood flow to the brain, preventing blood clots, and protecting nerve cells.

2. Berries. The bright purple, blue and red colors that make berries so delicious-looking come from flavonoids, natural chemicals that also protect the brain and improve your memory.  Studies show berries have a whole host of health benefits, including protecting the heart and cardiovascular system and preventing age-related memory decline.

3. Leafy Green Vegetables. Spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, and other leafy greens are packed with brain-boosting nutrients like vitamin K, folate, lutein, vitamin A, and beta carotene. Research suggests these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline.

4. Tea and Coffee. We all know that caffeine helps with alertness and concentration, but there may be more long-term benefits as well. For example, one study found that people who consume more  scored better on tests of cognitive function while another showed that caffeine helped people retain memories.

5. Omega-3 Fats. Research shows that unsaturated Omega-3 fats like those in fish may lower blood levels of beta-amyloid—the protein that forms the tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Experts recommend eating fish twice a week, as long as you choose fish that are low in mercury, such as salmon, canned light tuna, cod, and pollack. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds, avocados, and walnuts, and you can also take an omega-3 supplement such as fish oil capsules.

Melanie Haiken, Health and Fitness Expert

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.