Ready to boost your brain function?
You are what you eat, and when it comes to cognitive health, the types of food you consume can have a direct effect on how efficient or inefficient your brain function is. A perfect example of this would be how you feel after a night of drinking alcohol – not too sharp, right? Your brain not only relies on a consistent flow of nutrients, but also requires high-quality building blocks to keep things running smoothly.
In this recipe roundup, we’ll highlight some of the most nutrient-dense, brain-friendly recipes you can keep in your rotation for an extra cognitive boost.
7 Recipes To Boost Brain Function and Support Cognitive Health
#1 Simple Sardine Salad
Your brain is around 60% fat, which means that the types of fat you consume daily play a major role in the structure and function of your brain. Of the various types of fat that impact neurological function, omega-3s are by far the most well-researched and the most challenging to get into the diet.
Sardines are not only an excellent source of omega-3s, but they are also very low in contaminants like heavy metals. Unlike most fatty fish, sardines are bottom feeders, which means that they are primarily consuming algae (a natural source of omega-3s) instead of larger fish which are burdened with toxins.
- 1 can of wild sardines in extra virgin olive oil, drained
- 2 ribs of celery, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons minced carrot
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon avocado mayonnaise
- Zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place drained sardines in a large bowl and mash with a fork.
- Add remaining ingredients to the bowl, and stir until well combined.
- Serve sardine salad with gluten-free paleo crackers, paleo bread, or in a lettuce wrap.
#2 Organic Chicken Curry
This delicious curry gets its golden hue from the spice turmeric.
Turmeric is well-known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, which can beneficially impact your entire body. For brain health, however, research shows that the active compound in turmeric, curcumin, can pass through the blood-brain barrier, which allows it to have a direct therapeutic effect on your neurons. Some evidence even suggests that curcumin may help to prevent the aggregation of amyloid plaques which develop in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1 bunch of broccoli, chopped
- 1 pound organic, boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium zucchini sliced
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 3-4 Tablespoons yellow curry paste
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 27 ounces organic coconut milk (2- 13.5 ounce cans)
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- Cauliflower rice for serving
- Garnish with fresh cilantro
- Heat the avocado oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes until softened. Add the chicken, carrots, broccoli, and zucchini, and cook for a minute or two. Add ginger, garlic, and curry paste and saute for 3 minutes.
- Add coconut milk to the pot and stir in evenly.
- Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through. Adjust the thickness of the curry by adding more water to thin, if needed.
- Stir in the lime juice and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with cauliflower rice.
Eggs are rich in a number of nutrients that are vital for brain health, including b12, b6, choline, and folate. Choline, in particular, can be hard to get into the diet and plays a crucial role in memory and overall cognition.
This frittata recipe is a fantastic option if you want to cook your eggs in bulk. Simply whip up a frittata on Sunday and enjoy a slice for breakfast all week.
- 6 large eggs
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- ½ cup goat cheese
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
- ½ cup shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup spinach arugula
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon basil to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Whisk together eggs, heavy cream, and salt until smooth.
- Chop sun-dried tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms into bite-sized pieces
- Melt butter and coat the sides of the baking dish with it. Spread vegetables evenly on the bottom of the pan.
- Pour over the egg mixture, and sprinkle the cheese on top.
- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the edges are set, and the top is lightly browned.
#4 Massaged Kale Salad
Kale is packed with vitamins and minerals, including brain-support vitamin K. Vitamin K is particularly beneficial for brain cell development and the maintenance of specific brain lipids that control neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.
Unlike most salads which last a day, maybe two, in the refrigerator, this heart kale salad can be enjoyed for up to six days without wilting.
- 2 large bundles curly kale, large stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch sea salt
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup hemp seeds
- ½ cup crushed almonds
- In a large serving bowl, add the kale, lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, freshly ground black pepper, and salt. Drizzle over the kale salad evenly. Then top with dried cranberries and hemp seeds.
#5 Brain-Boosting Trail Mix
Trail mix is a fantastic on-the-go snack, but the quality of trail mix can vary greatly. This is why I prefer to make my own, choosing specific ingredients that can boost brain function while keeping me satisfied.
This trail mix consists of a simple combination of coconut flakes, almonds, dried blueberries, and pumpkin seeds. Coconut is a great source of MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) which readily turn into ketones – a fantastic brain fuel.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that is associated with improved cognitive function, and pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in signaling between brain cells.
And of course, no trail mix would be complete without a little something sweet, which is why I add in dried blueberries or cranberries, rich in anthocyanins (another nutrient that supports cognitive function).
- ½ cup coconut flakes
- ½ cup almonds
- ½ pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup dried cranberries or blueberries
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, then portion out four to five servings.
#6 Mocha Smoothie
If you’re having a groggy morning or you’re in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, this is the smoothie for you. You not only get a caffeine boost with the coffee, but you also get all the delicious benefits of chocolate.
Due to its high antioxidant content, research shows that (pure) chocolate offers neuroprotection, and some studies even suggest that it may enhance working memory performance.
Meanwhile, caffeine improves attention and alertness by blocking a chemical called adenosine, which typically makes you feel sleepy.
But this smoothie isn’t necessarily only beneficial for a quick fix; research shows that long-term consumption of caffeine may be linked to a reduced risk for neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- 2 cups brewed coffee, chilled
- 1 large frozen banana
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Stevia or monk fruit to taste
- ½ cup ice
- Brew your coffee and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
- In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth
#7 Rosemary Fruit Salad
If you want a brain-boosting healthy dessert option, go for this sweet and salty fruit salad.
The citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant that research shows may improve memory, focus, attention, and decision-making speed. The strawberries and blueberries, meanwhile, are an excellent source of anthocyanins, antioxidants associated with reduced rates of cognitive decline.
But here is the secret ingredient – rosemary. Rosemary is an herb that’s been used for thousands of years as a healing plant, and research shows it may specifically improve neurological function by improving blood flow to your brain.
- 1 cup of peeled and sliced oranges
- ¾ cup blueberries
- 1 cup strawberries, sliced
- 1 cup mangoes, sliced and cubed
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary
- Optional: Chopped mint leaves
- Sprinkle of salt to taste
- Chop and peel all fruit, then add to a large bowl
- Mix in the avocado to lightly cover the fruit
- Mix in the rosemary to evenly disperse
- Add salt to taste
Generally speaking, a diet that’s rich in whole, real foods that are high-quality will do wonders for your cognitive health. However, consistently adding in brain-boosting nutrients like those found in the recipes above is an excellent adjunct to your healthy diet.
Keep in mind that optimal brain function also depends on what you don’t consume. The biggest offenders; sugar, processed foods, refined grains, excess alcohol, and low-quality fats. Also, non-organic foods that are sprayed with pesticides like glyphosate.
Got a favorite brain-boosting recipe? Post in the comments below!
Click Here for References+
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