There are so many foods that contain nutrients that are known to benefit the brain. From nuts and seeds to fish, fruits and vegetables, you have a plethora of brain-boosting foods to choose from. To maximize the impact your food choices can have on your brain health, it’s best to eat a variety of brain-boosting foods throughout the day. This includes breakfast. Though considered the most important meal of the day, breakfast is also notorious for sugary convenience foods, if not skipped entirely by many. But what makes this meal so important is the fact that it replenishes the energy levels your body depends on to sustain you physically and mentally throughout the day.
With so many foods to choose from, there’s no reason to skip these brain-healthy items, especially at breakfast. For a better brain-boosting breakfast, here are seven foods to eat for a productive and focused day. And for more dietitian-approved breakfast ideas to keep you on top of your game, be sure to read Healthy Breakfast Foods Dietitians Say You Should Eat.
Known for their protein content and ease of preparation, eggs are also a source of choline. This nutrient is known to play many roles in the body, including as a precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Because acetylcholine plays a specific role in memory and intelligence, consuming adequate amounts of choline is essential for brain function. Scrambled, boiled or fried eggs are a rich source of brain-boosting choline to enjoy for breakfast.
While most fish are not typically considered a breakfast food, smoked salmon is by far one of the healthiest sources of protein to include for breakfast. In addition to protein, salmon also contains essential omega-3 fats that may benefit the brain. Current research points to the important role that omega-3s can play in children’s brain development, and maternal intake of omega-3s during pregnancy may be favorable for the child’s mental development. Additional studies indicate that diets deficient in Omega-3 may be associated with deficiencies in cognitive performance. Enjoy your salmon on a whole wheat bun with some cream cheese for a delicious and easy breakfast.
This kind of fruit is known for its purple and red color and its high nutritional value. While all berries are a source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, they also contain antioxidants known as flavanols. All antioxidants protect cells from damage, and this particular compound may also have brain-boosting effects. In fact, a study conducted on adult participants who ate blueberries found an improvement in memory and attention. While this study only looked at the benefits of eating blueberries, it appears that other berries possess similar characteristics. Enjoy berries in a smoothie, oatmeal or cereal, or as a garnish to your morning eggs.
This seed is a plant source of omega-3 fats and may harbor some of the same benefits as the healthy fats found in salmon. Research conducted in rodents found that maternal intake of flaxseed may promote neuroprotective effects and spatial memory in their offspring. While the types of omega-3 found in fish may have stronger effects than the forms found in plant sources, all forms of omega-3 appear to be beneficial for the brain. Simply add milled or ground flaxseed to your homemade oatmeal, smoothie or muffin recipe.
Another easy breakfast food, this nut contains omega-3 fats and brain-boosting polyphenolic compounds. These compounds possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that appear to benefit the brain. Research suggests that a diet containing walnuts may have a positive impact on memory and learning, may improve cognition, and may reduce the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. Nuts can be blended into a smoothie, added to oatmeal or cereal, or incorporated into homemade pancakes or banana bread.
This category of vegetables includes kale, spinach, cabbage, and kale, just to name a few. While these vegetables contain many beneficial nutrients, the lutein, folate, beta-carotene, and phylloquinone found in leafy greens can help slow the natural decline in cognitive abilities seen in old age. While you may think vegetables are more appropriate for lunch or dinner, there are a number of ways to incorporate them into your breakfast. Simply stir-fry and add leafy greens to your omelette, incorporate raw leafy greens into your smoothie, or toss them in olive oil and lemon before topping your bagel and lox.
While all nuts and seeds contain healthy unsaturated fats, the nutrients found in pumpkin seeds in particular may also be beneficial for the brain. Like many other foods on this list, pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants that protect cells in the body and brain from damage. Furthermore, these seeds contain a collection of minerals that are also involved in brain health. Zinc is a nutrient found in pumpkin seeds that is highly concentrated in the brain and is involved in the functioning of hundreds of systems and reactions in the body, including the nervous system. In fact, research suggests that a zinc deficiency may be linked to some neurological conditions and brain diseases. You can incorporate the brain-protecting benefits of pumpkin seeds by adding them to your homemade granola, topping your yogurt parfait, or mixing them into your morning oatmeal.