It seems that we are continually told how brain health is improved with fish consumption and body health is improved with protein that’s found in meat. However, while fish and meat tend to contain omega fatty acids and protein, respectively, they aren’t necessarily the best ways to improve our brain and body health. In fact, there are numerous ways that we can boost our health in these areas without the numerous side-effects of fish and meat consumption. While omega fatty acids are important for brain development, vitamin E and antioxidants are also important. Protein is important as well, but getting it from sources that also may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease or lack dietary fiber (necessary for colon health), may not be the best way to go. Check out some foods below to include in your diet that have shown to be helpful in boosting your brain and body’s health.
Flax products are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may be useful in treating depression or helpful for cognitive function. They are also high in fiber and necessary for colon health. They don’t come with the negatives of consuming fish. Flaxseed is sold in three forms: whole seed, ground, or oil. In order to get the benefits, you have to consume it either ground or oil based. You can buy whole flax seeds and grind them up with a coffee grinder or you can buy them in ground or oil form. If you buy in ground or oil form, make sure that they are refrigerated as they lose their nutrients when not. Read more about the health benefits of flaxseeds here.
An introductory study on food products and their inhibitory effects on certain types of cancers found garlic to be the strongest inhibitor of seven out of eight of the tested tumors, including brain tumors. While this doesn’t automatically mean that high consumption of garlic will block or completely inhibit tumor growth, it is an indication that consuming garlic may help in addition to other healthful changes in one’s life. Incorporating garlic into your diet can be a cinch – try adding some garlic to a stir-fry or cooking beans with some minced garlic.
Although berries are always tasty addition to smoothies, they can also be very beneficial to our brains according to one study. They have been shown to be helpful in their high antioxidant content as well as their effect on neuron signaling which prevents inflammation of the brain. They may even be associated with prevention of Parkinson’s disease. Blueberries in particular have been linked to prevention and even reversal of mental health decline. They’ve also been shown to be beneficial to athletes in helping with recovery after a workout. Check out this guide to different berries and their benefits.
Nuts tend to get a bad rep due to their high fat content, but in fact most of the fat in nuts is healthy, unsaturated fats. Unlike meat, nuts are a great source of protein that don’t include high amounts of saturated fat or cholesterol. In fact, they have been shown to lower cholesterol. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for brain health, and vitamin E, an antioxidant which also plays a role in neurological functions. How do you incorporate more nuts into your diet? Try adding them to salads, making some granola with nuts, or adding them to your oatmeal in the morning.
Packed with fiber and protein, beans are one of the best foods for your body. For example, 1/4 cup of black beans has 10 grams of protein and almost eight grams of dietary fiber. It has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol. Also, beans are high in antioxidants, which may prevent numerous types of degenerative diseases. Check out this go to guide on different types of beans.
While all these foods are beneficial to your health, it is important to remember to not eat these (or any) foods in excess. Eating a wide variety of whole plant foods is a great way to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs to thrive. And while you can get nearly all the nutrients you need from plants, it’s usually recommended to take a supplement as well. Hand in hand, supplements and eating a varied amount of whole foods will ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to run at optimal health.
Lead image source: Blueberries Boost Recovery After Exercise