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Food for Thought
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People usually think of "food for thought" as pertaining to ideas or wisdom. But there is certainly value in thinking of "food for thought" in a literal way. Certain foods truly do produce better brain function, and thus, clearer thought processes. Brain foods also help decrease depression. Here are some super foods that contain major natural ingredients like tryptophan, omega-3, and melatonin.

Flaxseed. This super food can be found in most any grocery store these days as its richness in omega-3 has received much positive attention for not only brain health, but also for heart, skin, and general health. You may enjoy the benefits in ground flax seed or in flaxseed oil. But avoid using the whole seed as the nutrients are not used as efficiently by the body in that form. If you want to use the whole seed, you can whiz it in a mini-food processor and store the ground seed in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Flaxseed does not retain all of its nutrients when heated, so use it fresh, sprinkled on cereal, in yogurt, or any food you choose.

Black Walnuts and English Walnuts are also rich in omega-3.  One-fourth cup per day is great food for your brain!

Tofu is an excellent source of tryptophan, which is an ingredient that turns into serotonin in the brain. This is one of the most versatile foods available. Tofu may be added to fruit smoothies and other creamy desserts as well as being used (the extra firm variety) for main dishes, such as crumbled in lasagna or used in place of eggs in egg salad. An Internet search for tofu recipes will produce more options than anyone could actually use.

Oats, Bananas, Corn, and Brown Rice are excellent sources of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps us handle stress and also boosts the immune system. A plate of brown rice, topped with black beans and corn with oat muffins on the side is a powerhouse of nutrients for the brain!

Folate is another important nutrient for brain health. In fact, people with low levels of folate not only often develop depression, but they do not respond well to anti-depressants. Foods high in folate are black-eye peas, lentils, and navy beans. Lentils are a great choice to cook often because they cook more quickly than other dry beans and can be wonderfully seasoned with onion, garlic, and other favorite seasonings. 

Next time you casually comment that you’re feeling “brain dead,” take a look at what you’ve been eating (or not eating). You might be more accurate than you think.

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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