Prepping your kitchen is an essential step towards supporting a nutrient-rich lifestyle. Clean out and organize, stock up on fresh and frozen produce, healthy fats and proteins, beans and whole grains to set yourself up for success in nourishing your body.
Nutritional Therapy with Diana Galindo
Eat Better Fats
One of the best steps you can take to protect your brain is to choose real fats from nature at every meal. Foods in their natural form are high in brain-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. A diet rich in omega-3 fats supports cognitive function.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, or trout
- Nut butters, nuts, and seeds – especially chia, ground flaxseed and walnuts
- Coconut oil – Coconut is rich in fats, protein, B vitamins, iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus
- Olive oil – improves brain and nervous system function
- Sesame oil – has anti-depressant properties
- Avocado oil – helps regulate blood sugar
- Grass-fed butter – has an ideal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, contains vitamins A, D and E and essential minerals iodine and selenium.
Eliminate industrialized fats
Highly processed oils:
- soybean oil
- corn oil
- canola oil (made from rapeseed)
- cottonseed, sunflower and safflower oils
They contain a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger your body to produce chemicals that can lead to inflammation in the brain.
- If you consume dairy, choose whole milk and milk products kefir, yogurt, cheeses, butter) from grass-fed cows. It is a complete protein, high in enzymes, contains brain essential vitamins B6 and B12 and fat-soluble vitamins A and D.
- 2% milk and low-fat milk spike your blood sugar and can contribute to inflammation
- Goat milk products are also a nutritious option. Goat milk has more nutrients because of the rich and varied diet of the goats and is more digestible.
Swap Refined Carbs with Carbs from Nature
- Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables: rich in brain essential B vitamins associated with better cognitive function and keep your brain healthier and sharper as you age. They contain vitamin K shown to boost memory, and phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress.
- Rainbow vegetables: Every color represents a different group of protective, healing chemical compounds found in plants called phytochemicals. Red/purple foods are especially nourishing for your brain. They have especially powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA-enhancing properties that help keep your brain fighting fit.
- Whole grains, especially ancestral grains such as buckwheat, farro, quinoa, millet, and wild rice
- Lentils and beans
Think of refined carbohydrates (pasta, bread, and baked goods) as a treat instead of an everyday food. If you must have bread, choose minimally processed breads such as
- Sourdough – uses a mix of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, rather than baker’s yeast, to leaven the dough. It’s richer in nutrients, less likely to spike your blood sugar, contains lower amounts of gluten, and is generally easier to digest than bread made with baker’s yeast
- Pumpernickel – is also made with sourdough starter, is high in fiber and is rich in B vitamins and essential minerals (manganese, selenium, and magnesium)
- Sprouted breads – made from sprouted whole grains are more nutrient dense and have lower impact on blood sugar. The sprouting process breaks down the carbohydrates and proteins in the grain, which may make it easier to digest and absorb nutrients.
Always add good fats from nature fats and/or protein on your bread. Here are a couple of ideas
- Nut butters
- Cream cheese or goat cheese
- Chia jam (blend 2 cups pureed/mashed berries with 2 tablespoons chia seed)
Eliminate Refined Sugar
Excessive sugar consumption slows down your thinking, causes memory difficulties, mood imbalances and can literally shrink your brain.
If you can’t live without sweets, use sweet sources from nature in moderation – honey, maple syrup, molasses.
Enjoy baked goods and sweetened foods as an occasional treat, rather than daily.
Pesto Crusted Fish – Color My Food
Bean Salads that Beat Brain Fog – Color My food
Nutrient-Dense Lentil Salads – Color My food
Healthy Quinoa Bowls: 6 Healthy Ways – Simply Quinoa
You can mix and match these recipes with other ancestral grains
For More Empowerment
Which Food Group is a Proven Brain Booster?
1. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function (2008). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
2. Sourdough Microbiome Comparison and Benefits. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8306212/
Do you experience brain fog, mood swings or constant anxiety?
Eating more nutrient-dense whole foods can help balance your emotions, your mood and improve your cognitive function. Good mental health, just like physical health, depends on adequate nutrition. If you are low on a few key vitamins or minerals, you are more likely to experience issues with mood swings or anxiety. Give your brain the building blocks it needs to thrive.[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Drew Ramsey, MD” source_title=”Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety” full_quote=”There are a variety of food categories that can aid in your quest for a healthier brain –and remission from depression and anxiety symptoms. They are leafy greens, rainbow fruits and veggies, seafood, meat, eggs and dairy, fermented foods, dark chocolate. Foods from these groups contain the important nutrients you need to feed the good bugs in your gut, reduce inflammation, and put your brain into grow mode. All things that can help with depression and anxiety” short_quote=”Foods from these groups contain the important nutrients you need –and can help with depression and anxiety symptoms.”]
You can get brain essential nutrients in these food categories. Make greens and rainbow foods the major components of your meals.
Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
Leafy vegetables are the most nutrient-dense (nutrients per calorie) foods on the planet. Spinach, kale, arugula, watercress, beet greens, collards, Swiss chard are all great options. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
Every color in our vegetables represents a different family of phytochemicals (protective, healing chemical compounds found in plants).
Red/purple foods are especially nourishing for your brain. Berries are the rock stars for brain health, but all red/purple foods have especially powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA-enhancing properties that help keep your brain fighting fit.[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Leslie Korn” source_title=”Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health” full_quote=”There are a variety of nutrients that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. Carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables, especially the dark leafy greens and red spectrum, are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and they improved cognitive health. Several high fat foods like avocado or avocado oil significantly increase absorption of the carotenoids” short_quote=” There are a variety of nutrients that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.”]
- Pastured eggs: Rich in nutrients needed to build brain cells, linked to lower rates of anxiety symptoms.
- Fish and seafood: Anchovies, sardines, oysters, mussels, salmon, cod are among the most nutrient dense foods you can eat – rich in brain nutrients omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins.
- Sustainably raised meat (beef, lamb, goat, and chicken). Loaded with essential amino acids, vital healthy fats, rich in B12 and E, vitamins, essential minerals iron, selenium, and zinc.
Essential Fats: Avocado, coconut, olives, nuts and nut butters, olives, grass-fed butter. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to the brain. They also help you absorb the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for brain health.
Fermented Foods: Kefir, yogurt, miso, sourdough, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi add beneficial bacteria to your system to help support brain health. These feed the good bacteria in your gut that support brain health.
Nuts, Beans and Seeds: A small serving nuts and seeds gives you a mix of plant-based protein, healthy fats and slow burning carbs, fiber, zinc, iron and essential vitamins. Think of nuts and seeds as a condiment; add to overnight oats, salads, grain bowls, curry, and meatloaf.
What to Do?
Choose the foods in these categories that you enjoy eating. Experiment and gradually add in those you’re not familiar with. Try new ways of eating foods you may think you don’t like. Here are a couple of ways to are just a few fun ways to add in more of these foods on a regular basis.
Be mindful of what you eat. Keep a food journal for a week and jot down the foods from each category that you every day. How many colors did you get? How many plant foods? Quality protein? This about progress, not perfection. Wherever you are is ok, just build up one food, one day at a time.
Eating nutrient dense, whole foods from nature is a powerful way to care for your brain and your body.
Ramsey, Drew (2021). Eat to beat depression and anxiety. New York, NY: HarperWave.
Korn, Leslie (2016). Nutrition essentials for mental health. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company.
Mood Food: Nutrition for Your Brain – GBC Nutrition
20 Foods to Naturally Increase Your Brain Power – Mind Body Green
Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety – Drew Ramsey MD
Updated – original posted August 2021
The foods you eat impact the structure and health of your brain. It is the most complex organ in your body — home to tens of billions of neurons and cells. It uses 20-percent of everything you eat. Give it plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day.
Your brain also requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. When it doesn’t get enough of these essential nutrients, your cognitive function, mood and overall brain health will suffer. Nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B12, B9 and zinc, can cause symptoms of depression and dementia — low mood, fatigue, cognitive decline, and irritability.
A food lifestyle rich in brain food can help you
- reduce the risk of depression and anxiety
- improve mental fitness and brain health
- reduce risks of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.
A quick look at these brain essential nutrients and their benefits.
|Brain Essential Nutrient||Benefit|
|Folate (Vitamin B9)||Helps create new cells|
|Iron||Builds hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from your lungs to your brain.|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||Builds and repair brain cells|
|Magnesium||Helps regulate several important neurotransmitters, including those that facilitate mood|
|Potassium||Needed for every electric impulse that travels along a neuron|
|Selenium||Helps create powerful antioxidant in your brain and is necessary for proper functioning of the thyroid gland which is involved in regulating mood, energy, and anxiety|
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)||Fundamental to your brain health because of its role in energy production|
|Vitamin A||It is linked to neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to grow and adapt in response to the environment|
|Vitamin B6||Plays a pivotal role in brain development and function|
|Vitamin B12||Vital for production of mood-regulating brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine; helps, transmit signals more efficiently and effectively across brain cells|
|Vitamin C||antioxidant that can counteract damage caused by free radicals in your brain cells|
|Zinc||helps to regulate your brain signaling and neuroplasticity|
Bottom line: You can choose the building materials you provide your brain
What to do?
Always aim to first get your nutrients from whole foods from nature. The power is in the synergy, they way the work together with other nutrients in food, rather than supplements only. Mix and match from your favorite foods in these brain nutrient-rich food categories.
- Leafy greens and cruciferous
- Rainbow vegetables and fruits
- Seafood and fish
- Beans, nuts and seeds
- Sustainably sourced meat, poultry, eggs
What will you feed your brain today?
4 Nutrient Dense Breakfast Casseroles – Color My Food
Sheet pan dinners – Cooking Classy
15 Healthy Buddha Bowls – Fit Food Finds
Mix and Match Stir Fry Recipes – Fannetastic Food
For More Empowerment
Brain Food – Scientific American
Eating with Mental Health in Mind – Mental Health America
Eating for Your Neurotransmitters – Deanna Minich
Ramsey, Drew. (2021). Eat to beat depression and anxiety. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
I walked into the waiting room with my brilliant, charismatic father, my mentor, my friend. He had come all the way from Bolivia to see a neurologist in the Texas Medical Center. “I don’t look like that, do I?” he asked, noticing the patients already there. I shook my head, reinforcing his notion that he didn’t belong there.
A few months earlier he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in our hometown Cochabamba, Bolivia. As often happens with the diagnosis of any major disease, particularly one that has no cure, disbelief was forefront. After careful research and months of waiting, we were able to get this appointment with a world-renowned specialist in Parkinson’s disease.
I will always remember that summer day. Going from sweltering Houston heat that sticks clothing seconds between the parking garage and the frigid blast of air-conditioning upon entering a building.
Disbelief is the first stage of grief. It would morph into a roller coaster of bargaining, anger, grief, depression, acceptance, resistance and learning over the next fourteen years.
This is what I wish I had known that fateful day when my beloved daddy received confirmation of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Cognitive decline is not inevitable. We can reduce the risks of degenerative brain diseases.
- Food REALLY matters – Eat real food from nature. Get the right balance of macronutrients: quality protein, healthy fats, and carbs from plants. Essential fats are especially critical for brain. Avoid sugar, processed foods and minimize flour.
- Micronutrients matter. Vitamins, essential minerals and phytochemicals (natural chemical compounds in fruits and vegetables that have protective effects). Key micronutrients like Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for normal brain function across the lifespan. Low levels can increase the risk of neurodegeneration. Get your micronutrients by eating a WIDE diversity of plant foods, including nuts and seeds, herbs and spices.
- Digestion matters – Digestion is the chemical and mechanical breakdown of food. Proper digestion releases nutrients for absorption through the lining of into the bloodstream and carried wherever needed. If digestion doesn’t function properly, nutrients are not adequately delivered to the brain and rest of your body.
- Gut health matters– Gut is the gastrointestinal system (GI) made up by the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine. Gut health is directly linked to brain health. People suffering from Parkinson’s have different patterns of gut dysfunction than healthy people. Gut dysbiosis (dysfunction) plays a pivotal role in the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease, and is also linked to depression and anxiety.
- Sleep matters – Improving your sleep promotes brain health and may reduce risks of developing Parkinson’s/cognitive decline. Create a regular sleep–wake schedule and sleep in a dark room free of light pollution from electronic devices.
- Stress matters – Stress, anxiety, depression and strong negative emotions decrease brain activity. The communication between the brain and gut is clearly related to chronic stress. Excess cortisol (stress hormone) over time interferes with neuronal plasticity—the brain’s ability to adapt and learn, can lead to a suppressed immune system, and to full-blown depression.
- Toxins matter – Environmental toxins, toxic mold, and air pollution are significant contributing factors in the development of Parkinson’s disease. Avoid, or minimize, the most pesticide-laden produce. Use water filters and air filter at home. Heavy metals such as mercury and aluminum can present dementia-like systems.
- Movement matters – Aerobic exercise (like walking) enhances neuroplasticity, promotes the growth and survival of neurons and appears to have the most favorable effects on brain health and Parkinson’s disease progression.
What to do?
- Eat food as close to nature as possible. To support a healthy gut and a health brain, gradually increase consumption of vegetables until you reach 8 servings/day. Eat a variety of types and colors of veggies. This includes roots, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans, berries, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices. Aim for 2 – 3 colors at each meal.
- Improve your digestive function and your gut health
- Build sustainable stress management practices — mindful breathing, movement, gratitute, nature…whatever works best for you.
- Honor your sleep
- Reduce your exposure to toxins
I will always wonder – what if we had known this information years ago? How different would the outcome have been for my dad, for his quality of life? For all of us who loved him?
Former Congressman, senator, ambassador, powerful historian that he was, visionary and architect of democracy, how much more could he have contributed to the nation he so dearly loved? And to the cause of democracy he dedicated his whole life to?
I will never know. What I do know is that with this knowledge about nutrition and the brain, I can help others to improve mental fitness, physical vibrancy and reduce risks of degenerative brain diseases. Change-maker that he was, my amazing father would love that.
Call to Action
- Subscribe for updates. I post about good mood foods that nourish your body for mental fitness and brain health and the above ways to optimize your wellbeing.
- Set up a FREE Discovery Call to see how we could work together to address your health challenges from the inside out.
Revised from December 2021 post.
- have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties
- are vital to innumerable functions in your body
- 8 out of 10 people in the US are deficient in virtually every color category of phytochemicals.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C and carotenoids. There are more than 600 different types of carotenoids! These beneficial nutrients can
- protect you from disease and enhance your immune system
- some carotenoids convert to vitamin A in your body
- Vitamin A helps promote healthy vision, cell growth and is essential nutrient for your brain health. It facilitates neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to build new neurons and create new connections
An easy way to eat more good mood orange foods is to put pumpkin into your breakfast. Here are 8 of my favorite pumpkin breakfast recipes because they are delicious and nutrient dense. All can be made with canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling) – a great time saver. These recipes are good sources of:
- healthy fats from nature
- carbs from vegetables and fruit
- Vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals
Boost the protein content by enjoying with Greek yogurt or kefir, or having hard boiled eggs or breakfast sausage on the side with the baked oatmeal and pancakes.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl – Hummusapien
I add plain Greek yogurt or kefir for protein, and 1 tablespoon of flax or hemp seeds.
Skinny Pumpkin Granola – Minimalist Baker
Granola is a staple in my kitchen. I always make a double batch, usually a variation of CMF Granola, but this caught my attention for the additional nutrients: flaxseeds and the combination of oats and quinoa. It’s delicious, nutritious!
Enjoy granola over a plain-Greek yogurt, with a tablespoon of hempseed/ground flaxseed and tossed with seasonal fruit.
Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding – Eat the Gains
This makes a marvelous breakfast parfait – simply layer chia pudding with plain Greek yogurt or granola, or both!
OR add 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa to the chia pudding for more nutrient density. Add more milk of choice to desired texture.
Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats – My Whole Life
A favorite because I can make it ahead. I always multiply by 4 and put in mason jars so breakfast is easy.
- Chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts usually)
- Dried cranberries
- Fresh, chopped pear on occasion
Make Ahead Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal – Kiwi and Bean
When the temperature drops and calls for hot breakfast, this is a delicious, nutritious option that you can make ahead. I love the option of millet as an extra grain. Replace with quinoa or buckwheat – I cook the additional grain with the oatmeal rather than toasting to put it on top.
- Ground flaxeed or hempseed
- Chopped nuts
- Dried cranberries
Double (or triple depending on your family size)
Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast – Cotter Crunch
In winter months I alternate between hot oatmeal breakfasts and this type of quinoa breakfast. Make the night before and warm up individual portions the morning as needed. Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle with granola for texture contrast.
Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal – Joy of Sunshine
Use old-fashioned oats. I really like the apple sauce in this and reduce maple syrup by half. Make it the night before. Keep the cream cheese separate. Warm up in the morning and top with some of the cream cheese.
It also freezes nicely in individual portions. Makes a great after school snack.
Pumpkin Quinoa Pancakes – Simply Quinoa
Pancakes are always popular at our house, so I’ve searched out more nutrient-dense options. These are hearty and filling. As always, make a double (or triple batch) and freeze for later in the week. In general I make sausage too. They freeze well.
- Apple Pumpkin Butter – Spend with Pennies
- Apple Chia Jam – Smiles and Sandwich
- Cream cheese with a bit of honey
- Coconut cream
What to Do?
- Make a double batch of the pumpkin granola as a staple for the month
- Choose either chia pudding or overnight oats and make enough to have a couple times throughout the week
- OR instead of cold chip pudding/overnight oats, make oatmeal one week and quinoa the next
- Make pancakes or muffins on the weekend. Double batch to have throughout the week.
Voila! You have a whole week of breakfast.
Originally published November 2021
You can boost your brain health by eating more carbs from nature. These pancakes recipes are a great way to transition from refined flour/baked good breakfasts to more plants and macronutrient balance. This gives you stable energy and more brain essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
- Add a dollop of grass-fed butter. Drizzle with real maple syrup.
- Puree 1 cup of defrosted raspberries or mixed berries (add honey to sweeten to taste)
- Spread with nut butter and sliced fresh seasonal fruit on top: berries, mango, peach, pear
- Mix plain grass-fed Greek yogurt with honey to taste, sprinkle chopped nuts on top
- Mix a tablespoon or two of cream cheese with honey – or raspberry/strawberry preserves- to taste and spread on top
- Make “sammie”, a pancake sandwich with above cream cheese, Greek yogurt or peanut/almond butter. Cut in half or in quarters for little hands
- Berry Chia Jam – Gimme Some Oven
Skip Aunt Jemima and fake “maple” syrup. High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food product, far from “natural” and bad for your health.[su_expanding_quote_web alignment=”right” source_site=”Dr. Axe” source_url=”https://draxe.com/maple-syrup-nutrition/” full_quote=”Similar to the contrast between whole and refined grains, unrefined natural sweeteners like maple syrup contain higher levels of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. When used in appropriate amounts, maple syrup nutrition benefits can include the ability to lower inflammation, supply nutrients and better manage blood sugar.” short_quote=”Unrefined natural sweeteners like maple syrup contain higher levels of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.”]
Adjust the recipes to use whole-wheat and/or spelt flour instead of all-purpose flour. You can also replace 1/4 or 1/2 cup of flour for oats for more fiber and micronutrients.
If a recipe calls for buttermilk
- mix 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- let it sit 10 – 15 minutes before mixing in.
After weekend breakfast, place remaining pancakes in a Ziploc bag with parchment paper in between the pancakes. This prevents them from freezing together. Remember to label and date the bag!
This is a great way to add protein into your pancakes.
- Replace all-purpose from with 1 cup whole-wheat flour and 1 cup spelt flour i
- Reduce sugar from 1/4 cup to 2 tablespoons.
- Use half whole-wheat flour and spelt flour
- Replace agave with honey or brown sugar
- reduce the baking soda from 1 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon
- use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil
Which pancakes are you going to make?
How many red and purple vegetables and fruits do you eat each day?
Loaded with powerful nutrients, they can improve brain function, promote heart health, and help protect your cells from cancer. Their beautiful purple or red color come from anthocyanins . Anthocyanins are compounds in flavonoid family of phytochemicals (natural chemical compounds in plants). These nutrients help your brain in several ways: .
- Reduce inflammation
- Enhance blood flow
- Boost cognitive fitness
- Improve mental health
- Protect your brain against neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Red foods also contain another phytochemical called lycopene is linked to improved cognition and memory. They reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. Adding fats from nature — like avocado, extra-virgin olive oil or grass-fed butter — significantly increases your body’s ability to absorb these nutrients
Check out the possibilities! Which new options will you explore? It could be a new vegetable. Or something familiar in a different way. I roasted dover sole with purple grapes for a quick weeknight dinner.
- Purple grapes
- Purple potatoes
- Rainbow chard
- Red apples, pears, grapes, and potatoes
- Red beans
- Red bell peppers and chilies
- Red cabbage
- Red onions
Think fresh and seasonal
- Add grapefruit to leafy green salads
- Shred red cabbage and/or rainbow chard to use in salads, grain bowls, add to stir-fry and even roasted veggies
- Beets, red apples and pears, bell peppers and chilies — Eat them raw, shredded, roasted, or steamed and pureed
- Make babaganoush with the eggplant and use on sandwiches and wraps instead of mayo; enjoy it on rice cakes and seed crackers for an afternoon snack
Use your pantry
- Add sun-dried tomatoes or roasted bell pepper (jar) breakfast eggs, roasted veggies, cooked grains, and salads
- Add (canned) red beans to rice and grains, toss into salads, make into bean dips for wraps and breakfast toast topped with pumpkin/sunflower seeds
Use your freezer
- Add berries to oatmeal and chia puddings, pancakes, and muffins; defrost and puree them to mix into Greek yogurt or as pancakes and waffle toppings
- Roast and puree beets; freeze in 8 oz mason jars to use in overnight oats, blender pancakes, brownies
For More Empowerment
10 Powerful Purple Vegetables You Should Be Eating and Why – Food Revolution Network
6 Health Benefits Of Lycopene & Sources Of The Antioxidant – Mind Body Green
Eating leafy greens regularly is one of the most powerful ways to care for your mental fitness, brain and physical health. They are a rich source of B vitamins, linked with better mental functioning and keeping your brain healthier and sharper as you age. They contain vitamin K which has been shown to boost memory, and phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. Loaded with immune protective micronutrients, leafy greens also:
- reduce inflammation (high brain inflammation is part of depression and anxiety)
- improve your immune system’s resistance to viral and bacterial infection
- work together to enhance defenses against destructive toxins
- detoxify and remove carcinogenic compounds from your body
Did you know there are at least 18 different varieties of lettuce? Leafy greens also include:
- Beet greens – cut thin like coleslaw and add to salads, add to soups and chili or stir-fry
- Collard greens – you can use as a wrap instead or tortilla
- Mustard greens – add to omelets and frittatas, bean dishes and stir fry
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
Kale is packed with
- 45 different varieties of protective antioxidant flavonoids
- vitamin A which can improve learning skills
- mood-elevating vitamin C
- vitamin K which boosts memory
- essential minerals that protect against cognitive decline
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Rebecca Katz” source_title=”The Healthy Mind Cookbook” full_quote=”Swiss chard is agreat source of memory-boosting vitamin K. It’s also loaded with vitamin A, which has been linked with improvements in various learning skills. The array of B vitamins here, including folate and B6, may help keep the brain healthier and sharper as we age. Swiss chard also contains the minerals iron and zinc. Avoiding iron deficiencies is critical to avoiding cognitive complications in life. And zinc boosts our memories and may help keep depression at bay.” short_quote=”The array of B vitamins may help keep the brain healthier and sharper as we age.”]
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Rebecca Katz” source_title=”The Healthy Mind Cookbook” full_quote=”Broccoli has B vitamins in abundance which is linked with better mental functioning, and as we get older, the prevention of dementia. Cabbages are especially powerful brain foods. Red cabbages have antioxidant phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C which is good not only for overall health of your brain but may elevate your mood. Kale is packed with 45 different varieties of antioxidant phytochemicals and mood-elevating vitamin C. ” short_quote=”Broccoli has B vitamins in abundance…”]
These are in the same nutrient dense leafy greens category. The name comes from the flowers, with four equally spaced petals in the shape of a cross. They have antioxidant phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. And lots of memory-boosting vitamin K. Cruciferous vegetables include:
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
What to Do?
Leafy greens are very versatile. Enjoy them in salads, soups and stews, or stir fries. Blend them into pesto and serve over fish or chicken, pasta or roasted vegetables. Add them to smoothies, blender muffins and pancakes.
- Choose different types of lettuce each week
- Mix and match leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Try different colored cauliflowers.
- Discover new greens you have not eaten before. Which one will do you choose this week?
Pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato oh my! Boost your mood, feed your brain. Eat more orange foods, here’s why.
Rich in magnesium essential for mental fitness and brain health
This macromineral is required for the proper function of nerve and brain cells. It’s a vital ingredient for your brain’s chemistry. It directly stimulates brain growth. Magnesium has a role in hundreds of different chemical reactions that occur in a healthy body. Yet, more than fifty percent of people in the U.S. are deficient in magnesium.
Carotenoids for better cognitive performance and brain health
Carotenoids are deep orange, yellow or red colored compounds plants use as protective mechanisms. They also help plants attract birds and insects for pollination. Higher carotenoid consumption is linked to better cognitive performance and a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In your body, carotenoids enhance cell-to-cell communication. and play innumerous functions helping prevent cancer and protecting your skin and eyes from damaging effects of ultraviolet light. More than 600 carotenoids have been identified. Two are particularly potent in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties:
- Beta-carotene can help repair damaged DNA and prevents the oxidization of cholesterol. This is the type of cholesterol that builds up in blood vessel walls and contributes to the risk of brain strokes and heart attacks. Getting extra beta-carotene in your diet may help to prevent the progression of atherosclerosis, cognitive decline and heart-disease.
- Alpha-carotene protects against cancer and is linked to biological aging. As your body ages, it loses its ability to fight the effect of free radicals. Oxidative stress due to free radicals impacts the central nervous system and can lead diseases such as Alzheimer and dementia. The more alpha-carotene you eat, the slower your body shows signs of aging.
High in fiber crucial for a healthy brain
Fiber helps control cholesterol and blood sugar. This can help reduce the amount of artery-clogging plaque in your brain’s blood vessels. High-fiber diets may also lower blood pressure which reduces the risk of brain bleeds.
High fiber intake increases healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (gut), while decreasing the unhealthy bacteria. Gut health is linked to brain health.
What to Do?
- For one week track many orange foods you eat
- Aim to increase by at least 1 -2 each week
- Try new/different orange fruits and vegetables. There is a wonderful variety of winter squashes waiting to be discovered!
🍊 🍊 🍊 Fruits 🍊 🍊 🍊
🥕 🥕 🥕 Vegetables 🥕 🥕 🥕
Yellow and orange bell peppers
Winter squash: pumpkin, butternut squash, delicata, kabocha and spaghetti squash