Brain-Healthy Foods

Sweet Potatoes-1



Our “brain & nervous system are made out of essential fats, protein and phospholipids, all of which can be damaged by oxidants” (1). Oxidation is a chemical reaction that produces free radicals (2). When we are in contact with free radicals they can cause damage to our cells, and our brain. The main sources of free radicals are smoking, pollution and fried food or trans fats.

Obviously you can avoid trans fats by choosing not to eat deep-fried food, donuts & chips, but it can be difficult to avoid oxidants from pollution. It’s better to take initiative, and protect yourself by eating more antioxidant-rich foods that are high in vitamin E, vitamin C and co-enzyme Q.

Here is a list of antioxidant-rich foods that you should be incorporating into your regular diet (1):

Beta-carotene: carrots, sweet potatoes, dried apricots, squash, watercress

Vitamin C: broccoli, peppers, kiwi, berries, tomatoes, citrus fruit, parsley

Vitamin E: seeds and their cold-pressed oils, wheatgerm, nuts, beans & fish (wild vs. farmed)

Selenium: oysters, Brazil nuts, seeds, molasses, tuna (once per week max.), mushrooms

Glutathione: tuna, nuts, seeds, legumes, garlic, onions

Anthocyanidins: berries, cherries, red grapes, beets, prunes

Lipoic acid: red meat (organic), potatoes, beets, spinach

Co-enzyme Q: sardines, mackerel, nuts, seeds, soy

Here’s a sample menu full of antioxidant-rich foods:

Breakfast: natural oatmeal topped with berries (raspberries, strawberries & blueberries) & wheatgerm

Snack: grapefruit

Lunch: spinach salad with carrots, peppers, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and flax-oil dressing with a tuna whole wheat wrap

Snack: trail mix: brazil nuts, dried apricots (& any other nut/seed of your choice) OR raw carrots with hummus

Dinner: fish with fresh parsley & steamed broccoli

Dessert: red grapes

Try and incorporate at least 2 antioxidant-rich foods into your diet everyday!

1 Patrick Holford, “Optimum Nutrition for the Mind,” 2009, pg.78.
2 Wikipedia  

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6 Responses to Brain-Healthy Foods

  1. Ashleigh November 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Nice post Laurs! I LOVED Patrick Holford’s Optimal Nutrtion for the mind. Keep up the great writing – I check in from time to time – You never disappoint 🙂

    • Lauren November 10, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks Ash! It’s nice to get some positive feedback from someone doing the course!

  2. Jesse November 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Great post Lauren! What do you think about dark chocolate? I have heard that it is really rich in anti-oxidants as well.

    • Lauren November 12, 2011 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks Jesse! Cocoa beans (along with citrus, red wine & green tea) are high in flavonoids, which are known for their antioxidant activity when tested alone; however, scientists are still unsure if they retain their antioxidant properties inside the human body. However, you should research the Kuna Indians – a tribe that has experienced many health benefits due to their high consumption of cocoa. All that being said; I would consider dark chocolate a healthy choice for a dessert – just make sure it’s 70% cocoa or more, and eat in moderation (a few squares). And even though milk chocolate has cocoa beans in it; adding milk reduces the amount of cocoa per ounce and adds saturated fat. Hope that helps!

  3. your mom November 16, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    Thanks to you Lauren our daily diet includes most of your recommendations. xoxo

    • Lauren November 16, 2011 at 7:54 am #

      That’s awesome!! So happy to hear that! xoxo

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