Check out these incredible brain-boosting Lo-Dough recipes
The link between our body, brain and the food we eat is vital and increasingly more well understood. As the control centre for our every action, movement and function, the nutrients we put into our bodies are equally as important for our brain as they are for our bones, muscles and skin.
Just because we largely focus on low-carb and low-calorie dishes, doesn't mean we don't believe in enjoying them as part of a nutritionally complete and balanced diet. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables is obviously a very good start for any diet/lifestyle, but there are a number of particular foods for which studies have shown links between their consumption and improved brain activity. From improved memory and concentration to improved mood and potentially the reduced risk of some mental illnesses - the specific fats and micro nutrients of the ingredients below all contribute to your brain's function and your mental health. We've selected a few of our favourite recipes that put these ingredients front and centre (alongside Lo-Dough, of course).
Oily fishes include salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and herrings. All these types of fish contain Omega 3 fatty acids - the same fatty acids which make up about 30% of your brain's mass. The brain uses these fats to build nerve cells and these fatty acids are essential for learning and memory. (1, 2)
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According to numerous studies at Tufts University in the US, eating blueberries may be effective in delaying/improving short term memory loss (3). Though the term 'superfood' is a bit of a misnomer, it is true to say that blueberries are packed with vitamin C, anthocyanidins and a good amount of soluble fibre - all of which add to the health benefits of eating them.
Broccoli is packed with vitamin K - with around 90g delivering 100% of the daily recommended intake of this vitamin (4). Vitamin K is essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that is found packed in brain cells (5).
Eggs contain plenty of B-vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid). These B-vitamins are known to reduce homocysteine in the blood (6). This is important because increased levels of this compound are associated with risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Another B-vitamin found in eggs is Choline, which is essential for a memory-boosting chemical called acetylcholine.
Nuts are packed with vitamin-E, which studies have shown if eaten in an adequate dose, may help prevent cognitive decline, particularly for elderly people (7).
Dark chocolate and cocoa are rich in flavonoids, antioxidants and caffeine - all of which are brain-boosting compounds. Flavonoids, in particular, have been shown to be associated with learning and memory (8). In one study across over 900 people, those who ate dark chocolate more frequently were found to perform better in memory-based mental tasks than those who didn't (9).
Coffee wakes many of us up first thing and you'll be glad to hear there may be more benefits than just that immediate hit. Caffeine has been shown to make participants in one study more effective at performing tasks that required concentration, either drinking one large amount early in the day or smaller amounts throughout (10).