Today I’m talking about the best brain food. It’s natural to focus on foods that provide natural energy, boost the immune system, or strengthen bones. Yet, what about foods that strengthen the brain, provide cognitive longevity, prevent memory loss? Let’s focus on some brain-healthy foods!
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Brain Healthy Foods
When I turned 30, I started hearing all about how to focus on my skin. Products to make it look younger, glow longer, wrinkle less. Yet, I never heard anyone talk about how to focus on brain health.
After starting Simple Green Smoothies, I noticed a lot of emails from the community asking about foods to help with cognitive decline related to a variety of neurological diseases. I learned long ago how effective food is at healing and preventing things like cancer, so why can’t food also help keep my brain healthy? Here is a great list of plant-based, whole food that can help strengthen the brain:
This delicious ingredient rounds out our list of brain healthy foods due to its large concentration of unsaturated fat. This reduces blood pressure, which can greatly decrease cognitive decline. I use it in my brain food smoothie recipe to add creaminess, and healthy fat.
Leafy green vegetables
Ever wonder why I based my company around green smoothies? I love leafy greens, not just because they’re delicious. I love that they are powerhouses of nutrition, and blending them into a smoothie is often easier than stuffing my face with salad every day.
Leafy greens also contain nutrients like vitamin K, folate, and beta carotene, which have been linked to slowing cognitive decline. So, just indulging in a daily green smoothie gives your brain access to ingredients from the best brain food list.
Bright + colorful berries contain numerous phytochemicals, that have neuroprotective effects on neurodegenerative diseases, according to research by the US National Library of Medicine. They also contain antioxidants, which can not only delay memory decline in the long run, but also improve memory. This gives them a top spot on my list of brain healthy foods.
Did you know that coffee is actually good for you? More specifically, the caffeine in coffee and tea releases serotonin, which improves mood (aka a great brain food). Coffee also improves focus on daily tasks, when consumed in small amounts throughout the day. I have a daily cup of coffee that is delicious + healthy.
While all nuts contain healthy fats + protein (I LOVE using nuts as a plant-based protein source), walnuts are specifically high in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. This omega-3 lowers blood pressure and protects arteries, which help keep the blood flowing correctly through the brain, giving it a shout out on this best brain food list. Maybe that’s why walnuts are brain-like in shape?
This brain healthy root has been linked to improved cognitive function in a study regarding patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric is also known as curcumin, which is an antioxidant + anti-inflammatory.
Hemp hearts are packed with omega-3s and omega-6s, which are essential fatty acids. These acids can help improve working memory. I chose organic hemp protein as the main ingredient in my homemade protein powder, because it is a complete protein.
I also love blending hemp hearts in my brain food smoothie recipe, or leaving them whole on top for a nice crunch.
How to Focus on Brain Healthy Foods
I’m continually learning how to be proactive about my health. I want to age gracefully on the outside, but more importantly, I want to age gracefully on the inside. This is a huge reason why I cleanse on a quarterly basis.
My Seasonal Cleanse includes all the foods on the above list, except coffee (due to the caffeine content), because I’m serious about wanting to protect my health through plants. This cleanse helps detox the body, while also helping to fuel it through whole food and rest.
Cleansing shouldn’t only have short term benefits. It should be delicious, and leave you with an even better version of yourself.
Best Brain Food Smoothie Recipe
I created this smoothie specifically for a Seasonal Cleanse. This is a plant-based, whole food cleanse focused on detoxifying the body, kickstarting weight loss, and on foods that nourish me from my brain to my toes. It’s quite a delicious smoothie, because I don’t believe the lie that tells us healthy eating has to be bland, gross, or boring.
Like every recipe in this cleanse, this brain food smoothie has the perfect balance of fat, carbs, and plant protein to help you feel full, while also giving your brain some extra lovin’ through the omegas.
Brain Food Smoothie
- 1 ½ cups spinach
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 pear ripe + cored
- ½ cup mango frozen
- ¼ avocado
- 2 tbsp hemp hearts
- Blend spinach and coconut water together until smooth.
- Add remaining ingredients and blend again. You can either blend in hemp hearts or sprinkle on top.
- Swap out hemp hearts for homemade protein powder for the additional protein.
Fantastic smoothie! I used unfrozen mango, so after all was blended, I blended in 6 ice cubes. This made (2) 8oz. glasses. Delicious! Really loved it as did my spouse! WooHoo.
I always add ice to mine, too, if my ingredients aren’t frozen! I love my smoothies COLD and thick. I’m so glad you both enjoyed this one so much! I really love the light, tropical flavors in this one!
This is also referred to as jet fuel in our house. I’ve added a handful of almonds and some turmeric and a dash of pepper, or a few anti inflammatory cubes (fin the 10 day smoothie challenges). Sometimes we use coconut flavored green tea or water to knock down the calories. We love it. Tons of sustained energy through the day without a crash. My husband’s favorite.
Oh this is so awesome, Sandra!!! Love that you’re swapping in green tea or water too. Keep up the awesomeness!
Where can I buy hemp hearts? Is it available in grocery stores
Awesome question Harlene! Hemp hearts are widely available and can even be found in stores like Walmart or Target. We like to order online from Thrive Market.
I’ve learned that if I peel the pear, my smoothie is super creamy and not gritty at all! Love this one.
Thanks for that great tip! 🙂
This was one of my favorite smoothies of the cleanse! It introduced me to hemp hearts. After 21 days of green smoothies my skin is fantastic!
That’s awesome, Rebekah!!
Love this smoothie! The pear is so perfect for fall!
I love the pear in this smoothie!!
I love this recipe! It isn’t too sweet and I love the creaminess.
This is one of my favorites when it comes to creamy smoothies! 🙂
I love the hemp hearts on top! I love to call it smoothie confetti!
Haha, I love it! And that’s just what it looks like! 😀
One of my all-time favourite smoothies! Make sure your pears are perfectly ripe, so you can enjoy their full flavour.
Agreed, a nice, ripe pear makes this smoothie unbeatable!
I wasn’t sure I’d like this but like all of her smoothies it was super yummy!
Way to give it a try, Laura! So glad you liked it!!
Could you please suggest an alternative brain fruit to use.instead of mango. Trying to decrease the sugar consumption. Thanks
Jackie, instead of mango, you can use peaches, nectarines, papaya, or apricots. For other substitutions, check out our Rawkstar Substitution Guide. 🙂
I definitely needed some brain fuel this morning, and I had all the ingredients on hand! This was super creamy and a delicious way to start the week.
That’s great, Erin! You were meant to have this smoothie this morning. It’s one of my faves, glad you liked it!
Got a substitute for spinach? It’s high on the kist of foods to avoid if you get oxalate crystal kidney stones.
Don, you can use baby kale in place of spinach. For more info on greens, here’s a post on the best leafy greens for green smoothies-> The Best Leafy Greens List
thank you so much for sharing this…i recently found your blog and when i am reading it i loved it..now i’ll read your blogs regularly. thank you
Yay!! That is what we love to hear. Welcome to the SGS family!! If you ever need anything please reach out to our team and we will be here for you.