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22 Foods To Boost Your Energy, From A Neurologist

Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager By Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
"Stressed Out" Foods Are Healthier, Says A Longevity Expert

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Quality sleep or not, many people rely on caffeine to get them through the day. Perhaps even more essential than the morning brew, however, is that midafternoon cup. You know, when the clock strikes 3, and it instantly zaps both energy and motivation.

To get back on track without pouring a third (or fourth) cup of coffee, integrative neurologist Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D., focuses on eating "plant-based foods with a high consumption of compounds that enhance energy production of cells." 

Energizing compounds to add to your diet. 

Plant-based compounds refer to the chemicals that make up plants, many of which can provide beneficial effects on the body (i.e., more energy). So, what are Ruhoy's go-to, energy-enhancing compounds—and what foods can help you get more of them?



A carotenoid that gives fruits and veggies their vibrant red-orange color, lycopene also provides antioxidant effects.

Sources: Carrots, watermelon, tomatoes, grapefruit. 


Phlorizin is a polyphenol, and some studies suggest it may help manage blood sugar levels

Sources: Red apples.


Betaine is a naturally occurring compound that contains anti-inflammatory properties and helps support healthy liver function

Sources: Goji berries, beets, spinach. 


These are a group of antioxidant polyphenols with anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting benefits.

Sources: Green grapes, green tea, kiwi, persimmons. 


A bioflavonoid found in fruit, hesperidin has been shown to lower blood pressure and support the vascular system (aka the heart and the brain).

Sources: Citrus fruits, such as limes, oranges, and lemons.


Citrulline is an amino acid, which can help reduce blood pressure in adults with hypertension and boost athletic performance.

Sources: Watermelon (including the rind).



Another potent antioxidant, studies suggest rutin may protect against neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's and dementia, by fighting free radicals and oxidative stress.

Sources: Apples, nettle, buckwheat, apricots, cherries, plums.

Bottom line.

While coffee can support brain health, the energy-enhancing benefits of caffeine tend to wear off. For more sustained energy, consider snacking on these plant-based food sources during an afternoon slump. Along with diet, Ruhoy recommends incorporating exercise, stress management techniques, restorative sleep, and laughter into your daily routine.

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