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Mind and Matter

Mental Health Corner

Eating for a Healthy and Happy Brain

For many, the beginning of a new year signifies establishing good intentions to take better care of ourselves by starting an exercise routine, eating better, relaxing more and worrying less. Colleen DeBoer, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, clinical nutrition manager at Northwestern Medicine offers the following tips on foods that will give your brain needed nutrients to boost memory and improve focus. Keep these in mind the next time you are at the grocery store. 


This fatty fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial for brain development and function. Other fish that are also high in Omega-3 are mackerel, herring, lake trout, and tuna. This type of fish habeen found to lower the risk of heart disease, depression, and arthritis. 


Whether you prefer them hard-boiled or sunny side up, eggs are loaded with healthy nutrients. Egg yolks are a very good source of choline, associated with reducing inflammation and promoting brain function. Consuming eggs can put a smile on your face as eggs are high on tryptophan, an amino acid that is considered a building block of serotonin (the happiness molecule). 


Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants known for stimulating the flow of blood and oxygen in the brain. This results in a boost in concentration. Keep in mind that all berries are good for your brain however the blueberry is the king amongst other types of berries. 

Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables

Spinach, kale, and arugula are rich in vitamin E and K, beta carotene and folate. Vitamin E is known to protect cells from free radicals while vitamin K is shown to sharpen one’s memory. Beta Carotene has been known to slow down cognitive decline.  


Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and macadamias prevent inflammation, contain antioxidants and prevent cognitive decline. If you are in a pinch, consider the walnut as it contains twice as many antioxidants and they are packed with DHA, an omega-3 fatty that combats inflammation. 


Caffeine increases your ability to feel alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical that makes you feel tired. Drink in moderation as ingesting too much caffeine can have adverse effects.  

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidants, flavonoids, and caffeine. According to experts, flavonoids improve blood flow to the brain, which may enhance memory. No need to feel guilty when you snack on that piece of dark chocolate! 

Source: Best Foods for a Healthy Brain 


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