We don’t often think about it, but the fact is that food plays a major role in mental wellness. so it makes sense that if we make eating for brain health part of our lifestyle, we can sharpen our memory, work at keeping depression at bay, and even stave off cognitive decline, according to Drew Ramsey, MD, founder of the Brain Food Clinic and author of Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety.

Eating for brain health isn’t complicated or difficult. It involves including more vegetables (especially leafy greens) and fruits (especially berries) into your diet, as well as seafood, fermented foods, nuts, herbs, and even dark chocolate. 

Knowing what you should be eating, and actually eating them are two different things. In order to keep yourself on the right track, here are some simple strategies that will help you build brain-boosting habits.

Nuts And Dark Chocolate Are Good For You

At the top of the list of food that’s good for your brain are nuts, says Annie Fenn, MD, founder of Brain Health Kitchen, an online resource that focuses on using food to help prevent dementia. Nuts are the ideal combination of protein, nutrients like vitamin E, and brain-friendly fats.

To remind yourself to snack on these brain-healthiest nuts, which include almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts, try placing them in clear containers in the front of your pantry or make little snack bags of assorted nuts and leave them in a bowl on the counter.

You can even add in other healthy options, like seeds, dried fruit, roasted chickpeas, and dark chocolate (that’s at least 70% cacao). Dark chocolate is a powerful tool for-mental-wellness. In one small study, regular dark chocolate eaters were 70% less likely to report depression, so you can feel free to indulge in this sweet treat without any guilt.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Is A Pantry Must-Have

Extra-virgin olive oil provides two nutrients your brain needs every day: healthy fats and polyphenols, like oleocanthal, which gives the oil its peppery bite and is a potent reducer of brain inflammation. It also helps your body absorb the nutrients in the other brain-friendly foods on your plate, and around three tablespoons of high-quality olive oil daily can improve memory problems in people with mild cognitive impairment.

So drizzle it on your salads and pasta, or dip your bread in it, and enjoy it’s delicious goodness!

Grow Your Own Herbs (And Eat Them)

Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, and cilantro are very important ingredients when it comes to brain health. Like many plants, these herbs contain compounds that can help prevent cell damage, ward off disease, and promote healthy ageing.

Growing your own herbs means you can pick just as much as you need and they will always be fresh. If you have space only for one herb, then go for rosemary, which may help improve memory.

Gut-Friendly Foods Is The Way Forward

Research continues to suggest that gut health is more important for brain health than we ever imagined. The gut’s good flora help us break down and absorb brain-boosting nutrients, like folate and thiamine, and a healthy gut can also help counter inflammation, which can worsen depression and anxiety.

To keep your gut in good shape, include more fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, and kimchi, which are all rich in probiotics, which your microbiome needs to thrive.

Frozen Berries Are Just As Good

Berries are little miracle workers. The flavonoids in blueberries and blackberries may help improve blood pressure, boost mood, and decrease brain fog. Since fresh berries can go bad faster than you can eat, you can keep them stocked in your freezer.

Not only do they last longer, frozen foods are often less expensive than fresh. Plus, frozen produce and seafood are often harvested at their peak, so they’re sometimes even more nutritious than their fresh counterparts.

The nutrition and wellness industry has made eating healthy too complicated. The best way forward is to fill your kitchen with the building blocks of brain-healthy eating foods, including produce, nuts, beans, and seafood and move forward from there. Switch unhealthy snacks with tasty alternatives like dark chocolate, nuts and berries, and in next to no time, you will be on the road to a healthier you!