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Can food boost your brainpower?

Eating well is important for your brain, as well as for your body. Your brain needs fuel and nourishment to perform at its best. What you eat can make a big difference to your mood, how clearly you think and your memory.

So whether it’s for an exam, an important meeting or simply to stay on top of all the things you need to remember, what foods are best for boosting your brainpower?

While there isn’t a single go-to brain food, for a healthy brain it’s all about eating plenty of nutrient rich, high-fibre plant foods, while cutting out saturated fats (mainly animal fats).

These plant foods have been particularly linked to better cognitive performance and memory function—so remember to add these foods to your diet.

Leafy greens

These powerful greens are generally rich in vitamin E, folic acid, vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene, which research suggests may play a role in protecting the brain. A recent study discovered that older people (average age of 81 years) who ate a serve of leafy greens a day preserved their memory and thinking skills. The results showed those who regularly tucked into their greens had a cognitive age 11 years younger than those who didn’t eat leafy greens.

Pumpkin seeds

These tiny seeds, also called pepitas, have big brain credentials. They are a plant-based source of zinc, which supports everyday learning by helping brain activity and function. They are also a source of magnesium, an essential mineral that helps maintain mental and emotional function.

Whole grain breakfast

Eating breakfast daily should be a “no brainer”. It can lift your mood and has been associated with improved cognitive function and concentration in school-aged children. For long-lasting energy choose healthy breakfast options like whole grain cereals or oats, low fat yoghurt, and fruit or whole grain toast and spreads.

Clever citrus

Citrus fruits such as oranges and mandarins are particularly high in flavonoids—nutritional compounds important for maintaining cognition and memory as we age. If you are not a citrus fan, try apples and berries for a flavonoid boost.


Broccoli is part of a bunch of veggies called the cruciferous family. This includes cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts. They are rich in vitamins and minerals that may help memory. One of these is Vitamin K, which helps regulate calcium in your bones and brain. Vitamin K has anti-aging benefits and is at the heart of emerging research about Alzheimer’s disease.

Must-buy brain foods

Go nuts. Nuts include a wide range of nutrients that are important for brain health like Vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, B group vitamins and healthy fats. Regularly eating nuts can improve cognition and memory, and boost learning skills.


Information courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. Visit sanitarium.com.au or sanitarium.co.nz and subscribe to Recipe of the Week for a delicious plant-powered recipe in your inbox each week.

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