20 Foods To Naturally Increase Your Brain Power

Neurologist & New York Times Bestselling Author By David Perlmutter, M.D.
Neurologist & New York Times Bestselling Author
Dr. Perlmutter is a Board-Certified Neurologist, four-time New York Times bestselling author, and fellow at the American College of Nutrition.
20 Foods to Naturally Increase Your Brain Power

Image by mbg Creative / Various, iStock

We are all at risk for brain degeneration once we reach a certain age, but luckily there are plenty of ways to strengthen brain health earlier in life and protect ourselves down the line. Food choices may be the most influential variable we can control when it comes to the vitality and functionality of the brain. Here are 20 nutrient-rich foods that are as healthy for the body as they are for the mind:

1. Olive oil

High-quality olive oil is rich in polyphenols, which are powerful brain-protective antioxidants.

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2. Coconut oil

Coconut oil enhances the ability of the brain's neurons to use energy and reduces the production of damaging free radicals. It's also a good source of saturated fats, which help the integrity and function of brain cell membranes.

3. Wild salmon

Sustainably sourced salmon is a terrific natural source of the omega-3 oil DHA, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health of brain cells and actually helps to stimulate the growth of brain cells in the brain's memory center.

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4. Blueberries

Power-packed with brain-protective antioxidants, blueberries also help to reduce inflammation, a cornerstone of virtually all brain degenerative disorders.

5. Turmeric

The important role of turmeric in brain health has been described in the Vedic texts dating back more than 3,000 years, and the popular superfood acts to turn on the parts of our DNA that help reduce inflammation.

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6. Eggs

Eggs are rich in choline, the precursor chemical for acetylcholine, one of the most fundamental neurotransmitters.

7. Dandelion greens

These underrated greens are rich in prebiotic fiber, the specific type of fiber that helps nurture the growth of brain-supportive gut bacteria.

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8. Walnuts

In addition to being a wonderful source of fiber, walnuts are rich in a variety of nutrients that support brain health including vitamin E, omega-3 fats, copper, and manganese.

9. Asparagus

Asparagus is high in folate and prebiotic fiber that supports brain-healthy gut bacteria.

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10. Kimchi

The traditional Korean fermented dish is loaded with probiotic bacteria that promote brain health.

11. Jicama

Jicama, also known as Mexican yam, is high in vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin E. It's one of the best sources of prebiotic fiber out there.

12. Kale

There's a reason for the hype: Kale is a great low-carb vegetable that's rich in vitamins C, K, and A, as well as potassium and iron.

13. Broccoli

Broccoli is high in sulfurophane, a chemical that aids in detoxification, reduces inflammation, and fights damage from free radicals.

14. Avocado

High in monounsaturated fats to protect brain cells, avocado oil has also been shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

15. Red wine

Red wine—when enjoyed in moderation—is rich in polyphenols that may actually boost brain blood flow.

16. Dark chocolate

Like red wine, dark chocolate is another crowd favorite that is also rich in polyphenols.

17. Spinach

Spinach is packed with brain-protective antioxidants along with vitamin K, folate, and lutein.

18. Almonds

Like fatty fish, almonds have high levels of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and lots of brain-protecting vitamin E.

19. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc—a mineral that plays an important role in memory and overall brain function.

20. Exercise

While technically not a food, I had to put it on the list. Research shows that everything from cardio to high-intensity interval training can boost memory and protect brain health down the line. One recent study found that a steady exercise routine—even one that starts later in life—can cut one's risk of developing dementia nearly in half.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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