Failing to recall names or dates? Don’t take it lightly! Sunny Rodricks tells you what foods you should be eating to improve your memory
General forgetfulness or the inability to recall faces could be due to a lack of sleep or other lifestyle and environmental factors. But, the best way to boost memory and brain function is through good nutrition. “Whole grains, avocados, walnuts, blue berries, dark chocolate, turmeric, fish oil and flax seeds are few food items you can consume to improve memory,” says Heena Ansari, nutritionist at Axis Hospital. Here’s a guide to eating the right food to boost memory.
Eat your veggies
Dark green and leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and spinach can improve your memory. “Veggies like spinach and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E and folate and help by decreasing the homocysteine levels in the body. High levels of homocysteine may trigger the death of nerve cells in the brain, affecting memory. They are also a good source of the fat-soluble vitamin K, which helps in the formation of sphingolipids found in brain cells,” says Indrayani Pawar, team leader dietician at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical.
Meal tip: Add kale salad or substitute collard greens for a tortilla in your sandwich. Stir fry broccoli or eat it as lightly steamed for lunch or dinner.
Fish and fish oil
Salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are rich sources of omega-3, fatty acids and proteins and should be included in your everyday diet. Besides fish, fish oil, seaweed and microalgae supplements are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in sharpening memory and improving mood, as well as protecting your brain against decline,” says Dr. Rajeswari Shetty, head of dietics at SL Raheja Hospital.
Meal tip: Grill, bake or broil fish and you’ll get flavour as well as nutrition. Salmon tacos with red cabbage or green salad, and even fish oil in the form of supplements boost memory.
Nuts and oilseeds
Flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, as well as almonds and walnuts are a great source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which help to improve the DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) levels in the body. Flax seeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a healthy fat that boosts cerebral cortex function, while pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which may help enhance memory and boost mood.
Meal tip: Nuts and oilseeds can be eaten as a mid-meal snack. Add pumpkin seeds to smoothies or eat them raw or roasted. Add nuts to your sweets and almonds to hot milk for a power packed drink.
This Indian spice contains a potent antioxidant called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and helps cells to fight against oxidation, improving cell life and combating memory loss. So turmeric keeps the immune system healthy and has many brain benefits too. Curcumin may help improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease, as it is thought to clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of the disease.
Meal tip: Add turmeric to eggs or add it to hot milk before bedtime.
Dark chocolate is full of flavonols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to both the brain and heart. The darker the chocolate, the healthier it is. Chocolate and cocoa powder contain brain-boosting compounds such as flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants. The flavonoids in chocolate gather in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory. Researchers say that these compounds may enhance memory and also help slow down age-related mental decline.
Meal tip: The best time to consume dark chocolate is before going to bed.
Boost brain health and alertness, memory and mood by strategically eating brain-boosting meals throughout the day. Use this handy guide.
Breakfast: Eggs, flaxseeds, fruits, beets, walnuts, oatmeal, corn flakes, multigrain flakes, milk and berries
Lunch & dinner: Fish, green leafy vegetables, fruits, curry leaves, tomatoes, turmeric, broccoli, fish and cereals
Mid-meal snack: Nuts, oilseeds, pumpkin seeds and green tea
Bedtime: Dark chocolate and turmeric milk