Everyone knows that exercise is a key ingredient to overall health, yet do you know why? Among the many other benefits — a release of feel-good endorphins, stronger muscles and bones, increased energy, decreased blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and healthy weight management — recent studies show that it may lend to a younger brain.

How can exercise keep your brain youthful? The simple answer is that “exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain while stimulating brain-friendly growth hormones, specifically in the hippocampus (the memory department).” The more complicated answer is found within the recent studies illuminating this amazing connection between exercise and a youthful brain. One study found that “exercise can actually slow your brains aging by up to 10 years,” while another concluded that those who were more physically active “had higher cognitive scores, while those who were less physically active tended to have lower scores.”

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What’s food got to do with it? Diet not only provides the body with fuel for energy, muscle tissue repair, and proper nutrients to boost the efficiency of both the workout and the recovery, but specific foods also feed and protect your brain. The health of your brain depends on a “variety of plant-based foods that offer pieces to the larger neurological puzzle.”

Try these 15 plant-based recipes from the Food Monster App to eat for your brain!

1. Superfood Kale Salad

Source: Superfood Kale Salad

Kale is a superfood, referring to nutritionally dense and all around good for your body foods. Raw kale has dietary fiber, protein, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, C, K, and folate, as well as a host of minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. This Superfood Kale Salad by Medha Swaminathan includes a laundry list of plant-based nutrient-rich foods including kale, chopped pecans, sweet potato, tofu, and quinoa all wrapped up in rich olive oil and a mix of herbs!

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2. Green Collard Wrap

Source: Green Collard Wrap

Green leafy veggies are one of the most giving plant-based foods you can find! They are known to lower blood sugar and pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and can even help fight certain cancers. Collard greens, in particular, are a great source of “calcium and the vitamins A, B9 (folate) and C,” as well as vitamin K. This super easy Green Collard Wrap by Rebecca Leffler has a few simple steps: “just take a nori sheet, brown rice wrap, collard leaf, or large piece of romaine lettuce; add everything you want inside; roll it up; and (hip hop) hooray, it’s ready!”

3. Chocolate Banana Squares

Source: Chocolate Banana Squares

Flaxseed, flaxseed, a wonderful seed, the more you eat, the more you boost the youthfulness of your brain! The best part about flaxseed is that you can pretty much add it to anything. It’s got a slightly nutty taste that blends well in salads, stews, soups, chili, and pretty much anything you can bake! These Chocolate Banana Squares by Anarki “AJ” Tjon Affo have a wonderful added crunch of walnut and pop of tart raspberry.

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4. Walnut Taco Meat

Source: Walnut Taco Meat

Since we were on the topic, walnuts are one of the healthiest fattiest nuts you can find. One cup of dried, black walnuts has a whopping 43 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 18 grams of monounsaturated fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, and a combined 43,000 milligrams of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This Walnut Taco Meat recipe by Christa Clark takes a twist on the traditional recipe with a dollop of tamari or soy sauce and a dash of oregano.

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5. Winter Citrus and Avocado Salad with Orange Poppy Vinaigrette

Source: Winter Citrus and Avocado Salad with Orange Poppy Vinaigrette

The cold winter months are usually filled with steamy soups and warm baked goodies. This Winter Citrus and Avocado Salad with Orange Poppy Vinaigrette by Rachel Carr is the perfect dish to energize your body while providing a sweet kick. Packed with antioxidant-rich fruit, such as grapefruit, tangerines, and oranges, and topped off with brain-boosting avocado, this salad will work in your favor at any age!

6. Veggie Rolls with Avocado Hummus

Source: Veggie Rolls with Avocado Hummus

When it comes to fueling a youthful brain, you can’t do better than avocado. But, if you’re looking for something a little simpler to throw together than the citrus and avocado salad, try out these super easy Veggie Rolls with Avocado Hummus by Shannon Leparski. Not only do they use half of an avocado — that’s around 7 grams of dietary fiber, over 15 grams of healthy fat, and over two grams of protein — but there is also spicy kick of jalapeno and a bit of sweet lemony citrus.

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7. Mesquite Almond Superfood Slice

Source: Mesquite Almond Superfood Slice

Mesquite may be the ingredient that catches your eye, but it’s the almonds that provide a youthful surge for the brain. With a unique mixture of brain-favoring riboflavin and L-carnitine, this Mesquite Almond Superfood Slice by Taryn Fitz-Gerald is perfect for the mid-afternoon energy slump.

8. Blueberry and Millet Porridge

Source: Blueberry and Millet Porridge

Blueberries are packed flavonoids — phytonutrients found in fruits and veggies — which are one of the best plant-based foods for your brain. This Blueberry and Millet Porridge by Natalie Yonan uses millet, which is actually a seed, instead of oats making this a great gluten-free recipe option.

9. Almond Butter and Smashed Raspberry Stuffed French Toast

Source: Almond Butter and Smashed Raspberry Stuffed French Toast

Along with blueberries, raspberries are high in those same wonderful brain-loving flavonoids. If French toast is your favorite, then you’ll fall head over heels with this recipe. Provided by Bettina Campolucci Bordi of Happy Food, this Almond Butter and Smashed Raspberry Stuffed French Toast ops for almond butter, raspberries, coconut oil, and buckwheat flour for a decadent way to start your morning.

10. Golden Latte

Source: Golden Latte

A 2014 study discovered that people who consumed more caffeine “scored better on tests of mental function” and were able to retain new memories better. Good news for those coffee lovers out there! This Golden Latte by Danielle Dewar is truly unique with a blend of rich coconut milk, earthy turmeric, and your favorite freshly brewed coffee.

11. Café Style Matcha Tea Latte

Source: Cafe Style Matcha Tea Latte

Matcha is the burly older brother of green tea. In fact, matcha is simply a super potent green tea powder that is chock full of brain-friendly antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. You don’t have to like green tea to enjoy matcha. This Cafe Style Matha Tea Latte by Carlota Cassou includes a sprinkle of raw cacao and teaspoon of agave to give it a sweet, yet rich kick.

12. Sage and Black Tea Latte

Source: Sage and Black Tea Latte

If both coffee and green tea are not your jam, but you still want those youthful brain-boosting powers, try out some black tea. It’s all about the levels of caffeine and black tea packs a punch to wake you up in the morning. Plus, this Sage and Black Tea Latte by Courtney West is enriched and thickened with healthy fat filled cashew butter making it a perfect, light morning meal!

13. Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Source: Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Whoever said that broccoli couldn’t be just as delicious as your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe? This delicious Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup by Jesse Lane Lee uses nut milk to create a cheesy broth. Yet, don’t let the vegan cheese fool you, the soup is laden with brain-boosting plant-based foods including broccoli, coconut oil, and garlic!

14. Roasted Butternut with Truffle Aioli, Wild Mushrooms, and Arugula

Source: Roasted Butternut with Truffle Aioli, Wild Mushrooms, and Arugula

Anything under the header “green leafy vegetables” is a good choice for your body and your brain. Plus, green leafy veggies, such as arugula, are great additions to hearty recipes. This Roasted Butternut with Truffle Aioli, Wild Mushrooms, and Arugula by Rachel Carr is the perfect dinner party recipe choice!

15. Homemade Kimchi

Source: Homemade Kimchi

The wonderful thing about plant-based foods is that they rarely serve only one health benefit. Cabbage not only lends to a younger brain but, when fermented, like in sauerkraut, it is also incredibly beneficial for your gut health. There are many ways to make Homemade Kimchi, but this recipe by Adam Merrin and Ryan Alvarez uses gochugaru powder and daikon radish along with the traditional cabbage, ginger, vinegar, sugar, and salt.

For more recipes to make your brain younger, we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

For more Vegan Food, Health, Recipe, Animal, and Life content published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!

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