There are different factors that contribute to the health of the brain, including the diet and gut microbiome with the gut-brain axis. A lack of variability in the diet and good dietary choices can have an impact on our mental health.
Based on the work of Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist, brain expert and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, and different clinical studies, these are some of the foods that she recommends.
They can add flavor to our favorite foods, while also having antioxidant properties. They help our brain fight the free radicals that are produced in the body, preventing oxidative stress.
One of them is turmeric, and its active ingredient curcumin which can decrease anxiety and change the brain chemistry of the brain, protecting the hippocampus.
A meta-analysis from 2013 found that saffron supplementation significantly reduced depression symptoms compared to placebo controls.
Fermented foods are made by combining milk, vegetables or other raw ingredients with microorganisms like yeast and bacteria. Some examples include yogurt with active cultures, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. All of which are sources of live bacteria that can help increase the variability of our gut microbiome and decrease anxiety.
A 2016 review of 45 studies indicated that fermented foods might protect the brain in animals, improving memory and slowing cognitive decline.
In a study from 2019 that included more than 13,000 adults found that people who regularly eat dark chocolate had 70% less risk of depression symptoms. It is also a good source of antioxidants.
The recommendation is to consume chocolate with a low content of milk and sugar in order to have the benefit.
Avocados have high amounts of magnesium which is important for proper function of the brain.
Countless studies have suggested that depression is related to magnesium deficiency. Several case studies, in which patients were treated with 125 to 300 milligrams of magnesium, have demonstrated rapid recovery from major depression, often in less than a week.
Nuts contain healthy fatty acids and oils that are beneficial for brain function. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals, such as selenium in Brazil nuts.
The omega-3 fatty acids on nuts possess antiinflammatory and antioxidant effects that can improve thinking and memory.
Leafy greens contain vitamin E, carotenoids and flavonoids, which are nutrients that can protect against dementia and cognitive decline. Another benefit is that they’re an incredible source of folate, a natural form of vitamin B9 that is important in red blood cell formation.
Improving folate status has beneficial effects on our cognitive status, and is a necessary cofactor in neurotransmitter production. Some leafy greens include spinach, kale and cabbage.
Dr. Uma Naidoo. (2022, Mar 13). A Harvard nutritionist shares the 6 best brain foods: ‘Most people aren’t eating enough of’ these. CNBC Health and Wellness. Retrieved from: