October 10 is World Mental Health Day and it’s dedicated to raising awareness and stepping up efforts to promote mental health and wellbeing.
Experts agree that eating a healthy and balanced diet is not only good for keeping us physically fit but it also plays an important role in keeping our brains in top shape.
In fact, UK’s Mental Health Foundation revealed in a study that poor diet is one of the main causes of mental health concerns over the past 50 years.
Riham Shamseddine, Dietitian at The Right Bite Nutrition Centre, said, “Brain health is good for keeping your mind sharp and improving your memory; plus, it helps you cope better with stress and life’s ups and downs.”
Riham lists top super foods to keep our brains fit and tips on how best to enjoy them:
Super food 1: Blueberries
They are popularly known as “brain berries” because they protect the brain from ageing and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Studies show that they help protect the brain from oxidative stress and increase the learning and motor skills in young children.
Tip: Add blueberries to your whole-grain breakfast cereals to help your body absorb iron from the cereals. Enjoy them fresh or frozen.
Super food 2: Avocado
Rich in many nutrients like A, C, D, E, K and B Vitamins, fiber, good fats (omega-3 fatty acids), avocados are the secret of a brilliant brain. High doses of Vitamin E were shown to fight free-radicals to reverse the symptoms of memory loss in Alzheimer’s diseases patients.
Tip: Cut up slices of avocado with low-fat milk make a very healthy and wholesome milk shake. You can also add avocado slices to your salad with lemon and a hint of olive oil. Watch out for the calories though, enjoy half an avocado as part of your meal or as a side dish.
Super food 3: Salmon
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acid and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are both very important for the brain and the nervous system. Omega-3 is an essential nutrient as the body cannot produce it and must be obtained from the diet.
Tip: Enjoy 4 ounces of baked or grilled salmon at least twice a week to benefit the most of its nutrients.
Super food 4: Flaxseed
Flaxseeds are rich in the important omega-3 fatty acids and they contain the ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), that boosts the area of the brain to process sensory information. It is also excellent for vegetarians and vegans to include this heart and brain healthy fat to their daily diet.
Tip: Sprinkle a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to your salad or any of your dishes to get your daily requirements in omega-3. To make them more digestible, soak flaxseeds in water for a few hours before consuming them.
Super food 5: Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoid which is an essential antioxidant associated with boosting the cognitive function. It also contains caffeine, a natural stimulant, which increases focus and concentration, and stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood.
Tip: Enjoy dark chocolate in moderation; choose it to be at least made of 60 per cent of cocoa and less in added sugars and fat.