Mr and Mrs Nutritionist

Foods That Improve Memory and Concentration – 8 Foods to Boost Brain Health

Could Your Brain Use a Boost?

Even though most people refer to their 40’s as the new 30’s, there’s no fooling your brain.Foods that improve memory and concentration

In fact your brain power peaks when you are in your 20’s and by the time you reach your 40’s there is already a noticeable effect on the ability to remember new facts and retain new information.

Since age related memory loss including dementia and Alzheimers are increasingly prevalent in a world where people live longer, we need to start paying attention to eating more foods that improve memory and concentration in order to delay and reduce the harmful effects that age has on our brains.

Realistically it is never to early to start feeding your brain with foods that will serve you well in the years to come.  No matter how far we have come with modern medicine, there is no cure all pill to prevent age related mental deterioration and the best and most powerful weapons we have are the ones we put on our plate.

Find out below the eight best foods around (in no particular order of significance) that can help you improve your memory and concentration and stave off age related mental decline:

1.  Purple Sweet Potatoes– Although the traditional white potatoes may be the most popular their lesser known cousin, the purple sweet potato, has been found to enhance your memory.  This may be due to a compound in purple sweet

Purple sweet potatoes

Purple sweet potatoes

potatoes called anthocyanin.  Anthocyanin not only gives purple sweet potatoes their beautiful rare purple color but also acts as an antioxidant, which may be helpful at preventing mental deterioration.

Since the purple sweet potato is grown primary in Asia most traditional supermarkets in the US do not carry purple sweet potatoes and you may need to go into a health food or a specialty Asian grocery market.

Also keep in mind that purple sweet potatoes have more than one alias including:

  • Purple sweet potato
  • Purple yam
  • Okinawan purple potato
  • Stokes’ purple sweet potato

 

2.  Peppermint tea– Studies have shown that students given peppermint before a test, have better performance and concentration.   One of the great things about peppermint tea is that it does not contain caffeine.  So you will get the increased concentration and performance without the side effects of a caffeine crash.  If you enjoy a nice cup of tea and could use with a boost in your concentration try sipping on a cup of peppermint tea at your desk.

Peppermint Tea

3.  Fish that contain high amounts of omega 3 – Fish, especially fatty fish that contain high amounts of omega 3 are vital for healthy brain function including memory and concentration.  Omega 3 contains a compound called DHA, which is needed for neurons, cells within the brain, to function normally.

Please take a look at our past post on fish containing omega 3 fatty acid for a full list of fish that contain high amounts of omega 3.

 

4.  Vegetables (green leafy, yellow, and cruciferous)- All vegetables help slow the rate of mental decline that occurs due to aging, but green leafy, yellow and cruciferous vegetables are particularly potent and have been found to be the best as slowing this decline.  In fact, people who consume 2+ portions of vegetables per day have a mental age of someone who is 5 years younger then them.

It is thought that the Vitamin E levels which are greatest within green leafy, cruciferous, and yellow vegetables, compared to other vegetables, may be responsible for this memory boosting effect.

Vegetables to protect against mental aging

Because each category green leafy, cruciferous, and yellow vegetables all contain different nutrients you should try and regularly eat vegetables from each of the categories.

For example it is great if you love kale but eating only kale is not as healthy as eating a variety of vegetables because each vegetable has its own unique nutritional makeup and contains different amounts of vitamins and nutrients.

5.  Flavonoids– A large group of foods, flavonoids, as shown below in the table, have been associated with a reduced risk of dementia.  It is not completely understood as to why, but it could in part be due to their antioxidant properties which are essential for removing harmful free radicals in the body.

Food sources of flavonoids

It may be surprising that dark chocolate and red wine make this list of healthy flavonoids, but when consumed in moderation with a variety of other sources of flavonoids they can be a tremendous boost to your brain health.

 

6.  Cinnamon – If your memory is need of a boost, sprinkle a little cinnamon on your food or pop a piece of cinnamon gum.  The smell of cinnamon alone has been found to help people boost their scores on memory tests.

One of the best parts of cinnamon is that it easily compliments the taste of a variety of foods and has virtually no calories!

cinnamon

7.  Green Tea – Although green tea has already been mentioned under flavonoids, it has so many nutritious and health properties that we had to mention it again!  Not only is green tea a flavonoid and therefor an antioxidant, but green tea also contains an amino acid called L-theanine.  L-theanine has been found to have a calming and anti-anxiety effect which can be beneficial when we are trying to concentrate on a particular task.

So if you find that you are having a really stressful day at work and are having a hard time focusing because you are too flustered to focus then green tea should be your go to drink.

8.  Berries– Blueberries were also mentioned in the flavonoid section, but berries are so incredible for your health we need to go into a Berrieslittle more depth.  Berries specifically strawberries and blueberries, slow down age related mental decline by at least two and a half years, and reduce the risk of Alzheimers Disease.

Not only are berries low in calories and in sugar compared to other fruits but they also are high in fiber and protect us against cancer.

For such a little fruit, these guys pack at lot of punch!

Mr and Mrs Nutritionist’s Final Thoughts

Having a varied and diverse diet is one of the best ways to get many of these foods that are great for your memory and concentration. You should aim to incorporate a few of these foods everyday, but this should easily be done by decreasing the amount of processed foods you eat and increasing your intake of whole foods.

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think about our list and or if you have any questions.

Also if you found this post helpful please share the love with your social media friends and family!

References

Cho, J., Kang, J., Long, P., Jing, J., Back, Y. and Chung, K. (2003). Antioxidant and memory enhancing effects of purple sweet potato anthocyanin and cordyceps mushroom extract. Arch Pharm Res, 26(10), pp.821-825.

Commenges, D., Scotet, V., Renaud, S., Jacqmin-Gadda, H., Barberger-Gateau, P. and Dartigues, J. (2016). Intake of Flavonoids and Risk of Dementia. European Journal of Epidemiology, 16, pp.357-363.

Juneja, L., Chu, D., Okubo, T., Nagato, Y. and Yokogoshi, H. (1999). Corrigendum to “L-theanine—a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans”. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 10(12), p.425.

Morris, M., Evans, D., Tangney, C., Bienias, J. and Wilson, R. (2006). Associations of vegetable and fruit consumption with age-related cognitive change. Neurology, 67(8), pp.1370-1376.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/43017881@N00/111606778″>Purple Potato and Kumquat</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7539175@N03/3387413282″>Pfefferminz Tee</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/90958025@N03/8384110298″>Exercise Plays Vital Role Maintaining Brain Health</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/97651299@N00/24487823391″>Red, white, and blue</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/85864537@N00/2477922953″>cinamon</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

8 Comments

  1. Jim

    Hello Mr and Mrs Nutritionist,
    Very interesting read. They say there’s something somewhere for all that ails us. The brain is something we don’t think much about though. Thanks for the reminder. Dementia does run in our family so again, thanks for the tips and food suggestions.
    Cheers!
    Jim

    Reply
    1. Maggie (Post author)

      Hi Jim,
      I agree, many people take for granted their memory and concentration because it is not a physical attribute that we can physically look at in a mirror everyday. Age related memory loss including dementia can be very difficult and is unfortunately all too common in many families, especially since it is something that can usually be prevented or delayed with the proper nutrition.

      Sincerely,
      Maggie

      Reply
  2. immamac

    This is some great information and is making me feel a little bit better about my concentration and memory because I actually eat a lot of these foods! Found it really interesting about the purple sweet potato and how its the anthocyanin that gives it special properties as compared to regular sweet potatoes and potatoes, I might just have to check it out. Also while I was in school I would have some teachers hand out peppermints during exams, so it has all come full circle!

    Reply
    1. Maggie (Post author)

      Thank you very much for your comment. Isn’t it pleasantly surprising when we find out habits of ours are actually really great for our health and we didn’t even know it? Let us know if you enjoy the purple sweet potatoes!
      That is really interesting about your teachers handing our peppermints, they must have been ahead of their time or were Nutritionists behind the scenes!

      Sincerely,
      Maggie

      Reply
  3. Derek

    Thanks for the information!

    My memory is not what it used to be, that’s for sure. And thankfully to you and all these wonderful foods, I can enjoy eating and help my memory along the way. I have never heard of some of these but I will be sure to check them out.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Maggie (Post author)

      Hi Derek, I’m glad you were able to learn a few new foods to try that will improve your memory, your brain will thank you!

      Sincerely,
      Maggie

      Reply
  4. Paul

    Hello Maggie, This was a great read at a great time, I will be turning 55 in a week, if I remember correctly!. I was happy to see red wine on the list, as I use it as a wind down from time to time ( cough). I am very curious about purple sweet potatoes. My son is a personal trainer and won’t let me eat, flour, white rice, potatoes, milk. He tells me dark chocolate, and sweet potatoes are good. I am glad to see that you have listed both, which stays within my diet. I am definitely going to go track down the purple sweet potatoes, before it’s too late and I forget!
    Thank you and best success!
    Paul

    Reply
    1. Maggie (Post author)

      Hi Paul,
      As long as you consume red wine and dark chocolate in moderation there is no problem having them be part of a healthy and balanced diet, although it sounds like your son is looking after your health very closely! I hope you enjoy the purple sweet potatoes, they can make eating a lot more playful, there are not enough purple foods if you ask me!
      Sincerely,
      Maggie

      Reply

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