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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Fausnaugh

Brain Food

Eating foods that contain key nutrients helps support mental clarity, mental focus, and lifelong cognitive function. Did you know the human brain has the ability to re-organize and build neural connections throughout our entire life? Think of your brain as a muscle. When provided with the right nourishment and intellectual exercises it continues to strengthen and build new neural connections helping grow our intelligence and enabling us to think faster. Did you know that the brain uses 20% of your body's energy needs every day?

12 Essential Nutrients for Brain Health

  1. Folate

  2. Iron

  3. Omega 3 fatty acids

  4. Magnesium

  5. Potassium

  6. Selenium

  7. Thiamin

  8. Vitamin A

  9. Vitamin B6

  10. Vitamin B12

  11. Vitamin C

  12. Zinc

Read on to learn more about how these key nutrients support brain health and examples of food sources that provide them.

Folate is found in blackeyed peas, white rice, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, avocado, enriched spaghetti pasta noodles, raw spinach, broccoli, blueberries, and oranges. It supports the production of serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters within the body and supports mental clarity.

Iron is found in oysters, beef liver, chicken, lentils, cooked spinach, tofu, dark chocolate, white beans, and stewed tomatoes. Heme iron is the source that is best absorbed by the body. Heme iron comes from animals. Plants contain non-heme iron sources. It is best to pair non-heme iron foods with foods rich in Vitamin C to achieve the best absorption. Iron carries oxygen in the blood to the brain supporting energy levels and mental focus.

Omega 3 fatty acids found in avocado, chia and flaxseeds, walnuts, wild caught salmon, mackerel, herring, cod liver oil, sardines, and oysters combat inflammation and support brain growth.

Magnesium is found in chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, dry roasted almonds and cashews, soymilk, edamame, peanut butter, brown rice, and yogurt. It stimulates brain growth, nerve, and brain cell function, and plays a calming role to promote restful sleep. It's when we sleep that the brain is able to reenergize cells, clear out toxins, and support learning and memory.

Potassium is found in bananas, dried apricots, lentils, acorn squash, potatoes, kidney beans, milk, and spinach. It helps cells maintain balance, regulates serotonin, and plays a role in transporting oxygen to the brain.

Selenium is found in Brazil nuts, halibut, chicken, cottage cheese, brown rice, eggs, and oatmeal. It allows the body to make it's own antioxidants. It also plays a key role in thyroid health.

Thiamin is found in trout, pork chops, black beans, bluefin tuna, acorn squash, blueberries, and brown rice. It supports the neurovascular system.

Vitamin A is found in cooked spinach, sweet potato, carrots, sweet red peppers, mango, milk, and eggs. It helps support cell growth and division, helps the body produce DHA, lowers the risk of some types of cancer, and helps with depression and dementia.

Vitamin B6 is found in yellowfin tuna, chicken breast, garbanzo beans, blueberries, bananas and potatoes. It helps with inflammation by lowering homocysteine levels in the body. It also supports the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin.

Vitamin B12 is found in clams, eggs, milk, meat, and mussels. It also combats inflammation by reducing homocysteine levels in the body. It supports the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Vitamin C is found in blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, oranges, bell peppers, and broccoli. It is a powerful antioxidant supporting cell health and neuro signaling.

Zinc is found in foods like nuts, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, oysters, crab, and beef. It supports immune function and neuroplasticity in the brain. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to physically change as a result of learning.

For a sharp mind, fuel your brain's plasticity by eating a variety of foods containing these 12 key nutrients.

Here are some examples of brain fueling meals and recipes

Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal with Greek yogurt, blueberries and almonds

Lunch: Egg sandwich on 100% whole grain bread with avocado and tomato with a side of black bean and quinoa salad

Snack: Mango and cottage cheese

Dinner: Grilled salmon, brown rice, and broccoli


choc cherry overnight oats
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Black Bean and Quinoa Salad
Download PDF • 263KB

Grilled Salmon
Download PDF • 228KB
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