Top 10 Brain Foods

Want to keep your mind sharp and nourished? Here are 10 highly effective brain foods that improve memory, mood, concentration, and overall clarity of thought. The nutrients they contain can boost both your well-being and productivity.

Eat up!

Read also: How to Keep Your Brain Sharp At Any Age 

1 – Blueberries

Blueberries are not exactly exotic, but they are no less of a real super-food for it. The little blue berries are chock-full of nutrients essential to a wide range of functions in your body. Notably, they can boost brain function. A core finding of studies has been that regular blueberry consumption can improve memory.

What’s more, blueberries – like a few other foods on this list – are rich in antioxidants. These ingredients help prevent free radicals from damaging your cells and DNA.  Still not convinced? Research has found that blueberries can reverse age-related declines in motor function, balance, and coordination. They’re not just excellent brain food, but also a tasty anti-aging dish.

2 – Salmon

Salmon has a reputation for being one of the healthiest foods out there. That’s mainly because this brain food is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically one called DHA. These fatty acids help your brain protect and renew its tissues, which increases your brain power.

Because of its rejuvenating effect on the brain, there are serious long-term cognitive benefits. This makes salmon a key player in fighting Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive disorders.

3 – Flax seeds

Flax seeds, also known as linseed, are crammed with healthy fatty acids. One of them, ALA, aids the function of your cerebral cortex. This is the portion of the brain responsible for processing sensory information. Keeping it sharp is vital, and becomes more important as we age.

Whether you prefer them crushed or as oil, flax seeds also protect your brain health indirectly. ALA and the other essential fatty acids it contains can lower both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Hypertension increases the risk for strokes and dementia. High blood cholesterol can foster both strokes and plaques in the brain. These plaques are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

4 – Coffee

A regular cup of coffee reduces the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive disorders. That’s because caffeine boosts dopamine, a core neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine is especially important for memory and concentration. Apart from this, coffee also activates our reward system, which improves both mood and motivation.

As another bonus, coffee is rich in antioxidants. It’s important to note that straight black coffee has the highest benefits as a brain food. If what you’re drinking is crammed with sugar, sweeteners, and fatty products, you’re doing your brain more harm than good. 

5 – Mixed Nuts

Peanuts, walnuts, pecans, and other nuts have a wide range of health benefits. Nuts can help with everything from fighting insomnia to promoting mental clarity and strengthening memory. They are generally rich in brain-protecting Omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts especially. Almonds contain natural mood-enhancing neurotransmitters. 

Almonds can also lower blood fats – as do pistachios, macadamias, and hazelnuts. In turn, this prevents strokes and brain plaques. All nuts are high in antioxidants as well. Brazil nuts, finally, are excellent sources of neuron-protecting selenium, which also improves brain signalling.

6 – Avocados

Don’t let the avocado’s fat content fool you. It’s a healthy, unsaturated fat that promotes blood flow, keeping your mind functioning at its peak. Experts put them on the same level as blueberries when it comes to boosting brain health.

Like a few other foods on this list, avocados also protect your brain by reducing blood pressure. That said, enjoy this tasty brain food in moderation, because even the healthiest fats are high in raw calories.

7 – Eggs

Egg yolks are rich in choline and lutein, both essential nutrients for memory function.  

It’s true that eggs aren’t exactly light on cholesterol, but nutritionists now recognize that they mostly contain “good cholesterol” – HDL. HDL counters the negative effects of its “bad” cousin, LDL. In this way, eggs can protect your blood vessels and your brain

8 – Whole Grains

From oatmeal to dark bread, whole grains are excellent brain foods. They can improve circulation in your brain and the rest of your body. They are rich in vitamins and contribute some Omega-3 fatty acids.

A major benefit comes from their fiber content, which boosts gut health. In a good example of how all systems in our bodies are linked, a healthy gut is essential for top brain function. Just make your sandwiches from whole grain bread to enjoy the benefits.

9 – Chocolate

This certainly one of the yummiest brain foods. Dark chocolate especially is rich in antioxidants and theobromine. Together, these nutrients improve focus, concentration, and mood.

That’s not to say that milk chocolate is off the table: Both kinds are good for memory, impulse control, and reaction time.

10 – Broccoli

Chances are, you don’t enjoy our final brain food as much as chocolate, but you might want to rethink your stance on it. Studies have found that broccoli can improve memory and slow the aging process. This means a broccoli-rich diet will keep you young and sharp.

Which brain foods do you enjoy? Let us know in the comments!

Note: This post was first published in 2010. It has since been updated with new studies, topical links, and additional food items.

Join the discussion

52 comments
  • In addition to eating well, set aside time to challenge your mind. There is a body of rigorous research showing that mental fitness, like physical fitness improves the body, gets better with the right exercises.

    Posit Science, where I am CEO and Dr. Mike Merzenich is Chief Science Officer, makes scientifically-validated and engaging software that can help you think faster, focus better and remember more. Over 30 clinical studies from institutions like the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins show that our technology can have a range of benefits from improved memory to lowered health care costs to improved driving safety. For more information and to try free exercises, please visit http://www.positscience.com/braingames

    • same as me. learning about the human body and brain and what we can handle and do is so fasinating isnt it…

  • I am surprised to know all these top 10 brain foods as all foods are my favorite specially chocolate.I think that now I get like an excuse to eat chocolate.I also like broccoli.Its good that you have provided description with all foods.

    • My friend HATES choclate if she eats it she pukes.Now I know y she dos’ent have good focus. Elyssa if your reading this, im not trying to be mean or anything please don’t use your claws! :@ :[

    • My friend H-A-T-E-S choclate!!!!!!! If she eats it she pukes!!!! Now I know why she’s not that focused.Elyssa if your reading this im not trying to be mean or anything just, PLEASE DONT USE YOUR NAILS!!!!!!! :[

  • I should remember this list while going to market !!

    Most of all is the chocolate that I really enjoy but I love the ones with milk … do they have the same useful effect for the brain as the dark one ?

  • I think chocolates are good for memory and overall health but are high on fat.Dark chocolate is great.There are very few chocolates that are good for health the rest of them are fatty

  • Dark chocolate by amul and and composite chocolate which contains about 14gm of fat out of 42 gm of the chocolate.Fruit and nuts are good.Chocolates must always be low on fat.There is a trend abroad to eat a chocolate as a part of dessert.

  • Gudday Sir, Im lossing focus and forget a lot! Im currently attending therapy but, would also like to know food that can focus on that problem. Its not nice to lose focus especialy at work, they need people to be 100% there and interact. dont know what to do with my problem. please help.

  • pleased to hear about you. i would be grateful if you could send into my box some tip on brain improvement.i use to forget so easily and I want read law .
    thank

  • A few omissions here. Ghee an essential ingredient of many Ayurvedic medicines is also a critical part of traditional Indian diet. It is traditional to take 1 small teaspoon of ghee with ones rice or roti (Other Indian fatty foods must be avoided) Neglect often results problems related to the nervous system , and possibly Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. The other is extra virgin olive oil which serves a similar purpose. Walnut is also very good for the brain. Chocolate should preferably be dark with at least 70% cocoa. I have not come across Indian chocolates with that level. They may be available.

    • good idea on the ghee. probably one of the most underated. also i heard a combo of ghee and cod liver oil does wonders for teeth and bones.

  • I’ve done a lot of research on this subject and I think this list is an excellent compilation of what I’ve found elsewhere. Every top brain foods list seems to differ somewhat but that is understandable – how do we really know for sure which foods help the brain the most? And I imagine different people have different needs as well.

  • I am not old but have got 56 years of age and also very fine. I am using Maximum items listed above and giving full marks to writer.Hi,I am semi -veg means taking eggs but not regularly, taking coffee ,peanuts,chocolates and whole grains. thanks for good article .

  • thank,good info.we often forget these foods but they are very good for the mind,especially caffeine in moderation,got to get avocados,and salmon,and wallnuts,on my list,i was wondering about coq10,how much shoul i take and how often? and also ginseng?and green tea?and would any mushroom be benaficial fresh opposed to pill form?

  • Nootropics are also excellent brain food. Nootropics or cognitive enhancing supplements like Alpha Brain (containing 9 natural compounds) from Onnit Labs, can elevate focus and mental clarity to help the brain achieve improved cognitive functioning. Alpha Brain has helped me increase focus and mental clarity while providing a boost in general mood as well. You can use “10less” as a discount code to receive a 10% discount on all Onnit supplements like Alpha Brain. Cheers.

  • G I V E M E M O R E I N F O R E M A T I O N O N B R I A N F O O D !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I can’t believe that they included coffee and did not have green tea on the list which is waaaaay better for you than coffee will ever be!

    Think about it….

  • Good article.There might be many more eatables which boost the brain power.Further research is needed on this significant subject.

  • i need to create new paths in my brain to move my right hand i had a stroke any ideas. i had a blockage on the leaft handside of my brain 52 yrs any ideas on food

  • Rest is good for our brain…Water is more useful for our brain because water will pump our bloods to all parts of our body..meditation and physical exercise. play brain test like sudoku, puzzles,read something new…

  • […] students of the world, rejoice! You can actually defend your daily cup of joe habit by quoting dirjournal.com’s health blog: “Regular coffee drinking has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other […]

  • Getting back to chocolate; what is the best chocolate chip (dark or light), bar chocolate for baking (dark or light), powdered chocolate (dark or light), chocolate syrup for plate desert pies, cakes and fresh fruits?
    I was recently given a “Panatone” a traditional Italian holiday sweet bread that usually has citron and other dried fruit in it. However this only had chocolate chips in it of some likely kind that must have been a cheep variety of chocolate which had a very bad taste. How long can you keep chocolate varieties for freshness? I’d like to know.