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Food

11 Memory-Boosting Foods To Start Eating Today!

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As we age, cognitive function and memory both decline. While there are certain things, we can do to help staunch that decline; such as regular brain-boosting activities, like crossword puzzles and Sudoku, limiting our stress levels and work hours to thirty hours per week or less. There are also quite a few foods we can incorporate into our regular diet, that many researchers believe also boost cognitive function and memory.

 

Can food improve your memory?

First, a note of caution: Thus far, statements from the National Institute of Health have all been to say that “there is insufficient evidence that food, diet, or lifestyle can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

That hasn't stopped researchers from looking at how various foods and brain functions are linked, and while Dr Sam Gandy of the Mount Sinai Medical Center's Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center notes, “I can’t write a prescription for broccoli and say this will help—yet,” that doesn't mean there aren't foods that have been linked to cognitive health in one way or another.

As such, we feel okay recommending the following foods for their potential memory-boosting effects.

Check out some of our favourites below:

 

1. Avocados

Though fat often gets a bad rap, avocados are loaded with the good monosaturated fats, and the combination of vitamin K and folate means that not only does this superfood help prevent blood clots in the brain, it also aids cognitive function, particularly in memory and concentration. It's also rich in vitamin E, an important antioxidant. Even more importantly, as Dr Martha Clare Morris notes, vitamin E may help protect neurons or nerve cells, which limits the likelihood of developing cognitive degeneration such Alzheimer’s disease. The benefits have been found in vitamin-E rich foods, but not in supplements.

 

2. Blueberries

In addition to being delicious little bits of nature's candy, blueberries are also one of the best antioxidants out there. This is important because some research suggests that antioxidants combat oxidation and inflammation, both of which may be factors in neurodegenerative brain diseases. Additionally, some other research suggests that a few of those antioxidants may improve communication between brain cells, as well as boost memory and even potentially delay memory loss associated with ageing.

 

3. Bone broth

Some natural medicine practitioners believe that gut composition can sometimes be a key factor in brain function, and toward that end, bone broth is a wonderful supplement. As bone broth helps reset microbe balances in the gut, amino acids such as proline and glycine may help boost memory.

 

4. Broccoli

Because broccoli is loaded with vitamin K and choline, it's another memory superfood; as an added bonus, not only does that vitamin K help with memory, but the antioxidants in broccoli may also protect the brain.

 

5. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is one of those pleasures you don't have to feel guilty about, as it's packed with brain-boosters, including antioxidants, caffeine, and flavonoids—a group of antioxidant plant compounds.

Chocolate's flavonoids assist the areas of the brain we associate with learning and memory, meaning they may both boost memory and slow age-related cognitive decline.

Keep in mind, though, that this needs to be dark chocolate, meaning free of additives like sugar and cream and so forth. We recommend shooting for at least 70% dark chocolate.

 

6. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens such as collard greens, kale, and spinach are great sources of vitamin E and folate, and as Dr Morris notes, folate has been linked to better brain health. It's believed folate may work by reducing an amino acid called homocysteine (which can trigger nerve cell death), but more research is yet needed.

 

7. Eggs

While no research has yet proven eggs can help brain health, there's plenty of research that supports nutrients found in eggs are important for memory and cognitive function.

In particular, eggs are packed with vitamins B6, B12, folate, and choline. Choline is especially important, as it helps create a neurotransmitter linked with memory, mood, and mental function, acetylcholine.

Additionally, the B vitamins and folate can slow mental decline that is age-related, and deficiencies have been linked to depression—just one more reason to eat plenty of eggs.

 

8. Fatty Fish

By fatty fish, we mean fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as sardines, salmon, and trout. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important to our brain, because 60% of our brain is fat, and half of that is omega-3, which is used for brain and nerve cell development, and is key to learning and memory.

As a result, it may not be surprising that omega-3s may slow age-related cognitive decline and limit the incidence of Alzheimer's disease, whereas as deficiencies have linked to learning impairments and depression.

Given that it's also delicious sounds like lots of great reasons to load up on fatty fish to us!

 

9. Green Tea

Just as with coffee, the caffeine in green tea can boost brain function, including memory and focus. But there's more to green tea, too.

In particular, an amino acid called L-theanine increases GABA (an important neurotransmitter) activity, which cuts down on anxiety, helping you to focus while also calming you. Additionally, the polyphenols and antioxidants in green tea have been linked to a lower incidence of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

 

10. Nuts

While there's plenty of science to support nuts improving heart health, only recently has that health translated to brain health and memory. In 2014, for instance, a new study found nuts both improve mental cognition and can help prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Researchers theorize this is the result of antioxidants, healthy fats, and vitamin E, all of which help slow mental decline. If you have to pick a favourite, though, go for walnuts—they have extra omega-3 fatty acids.

 

11. Turmeric

The rich yellow spice that gives curry its colour and some of its flavour, turmeric has been a roll lately when it comes to health benefits. In particular, its active ingredient, curcumin has been found capable of directly crossing the blood-brain barrier, meaning it delivers its many benefits to the brain more efficiently.

In addition to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, curcumin can help fight Alzheimer's, ease depression, and build brain function and learning capacity. Wow!

That's quite a list of superfoods! Add them to your diet more regularly, and we bet you'll be feeling sharper and more alert in no time.

 

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Food

Recipe: Chickpea Noodle Salad

Makes 2 servings
(per 1) Carbs 57.5g / Fat 27.9g /Protein 11.6g / Calories 509


Ingredients

  • 6 large kale leaves
  • 50g rice vermicelli
  • 1 lemon
  • A pinch of himalayan salt
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Pad Thai paste
  • 1 can of chickpeas (rinsed)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • Baby spinach
  • Grated carrot
  • Coriander

Ingredients (Dressing)

  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Method

  1. To prepare your kale take six large, washed leaves and cut around the spine of the leaf before chopping into small pieces.
  2. Place the kale in a bowl and add the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of Himalayan salt, massage these into the kale and leave it to sit on it's own while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Place a skillet on medium heat with 1 tsp of olive oil.
  4. Cut up 1 brown onion and place it in the warm skillet.
  5. Allow the onion to cook on it's own for five minutes before adding in 1 tin of rinsed and drained chickpeas and turn down to a lower heat.
  6. Also add paprika, curry powder and onion salt to the onion/chickpea mix.
  7. In a new bowl place 50g of rice vermicelli and enough boiled water to completely cover the vermicelli. After 5 minutes use some kitchen scissors to cut up the vermicelli. Allow this to also sit on it's own for a few minutes.
  8. After the chickpea/onion mix has cooked for 20 minutes add 2 tablespoons of Pad Thai paste and allow it to cook on a low heat for a further 5 minutes.
  9. While the chickpeas are finishing begin constructing your salad bowls. Combine the pre-prepared kale and vermicelli with some baby spinach leaves, grated carrot and coriander.
  10. Add the chickpeas on top once they are finished.

Food

Recipe: Strawberry Nut Cake

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A couple of weeks before Christmas my extended family all likes to get together for a big lunch to celebrate. One of my favourite things that we do together is instead of all buying each other gifts for Christmas we each put in about $20 or so and then collect all the money up and donate it to a charity. Today was that day and my family was in charge of bringing the desserts (I was so happy with that decision haha). My mum took along some normal christmas cakes but then also bought fruit platters and some healthy bars she makes and I decided to make a raw vegan cheesecake, but it ended up being a nutcake and it was a hit. This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and totally vegan (but still tastes so good). There is a tiny bit left in the freezer so guess what I am going to eat while Beau is out at basketball...

Note: this recipe takes a bit of time to make, best to prepare it the day before you need it!


Makes 1 cake (approx. 12 slices)
(per slice) Carbs 68g / Fat 39g / Protein 11g / Calories 636

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Ingredients

Topping:

  • 3 cups strawberries (I used a frozen packet and thawed them)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 punnets fresh strawberries [for serving]
  • (optional) blueberries [for serving]
  • (optional) crushed cashews [for serving]

Filling:

  • 3.5 cups cashews (soaked in water for about half an hour before you decide to make this layer)
  • 3/4 cup coconut nectar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Base:

  • 1.5 cups macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/3 nutmeg

Method

  1. Lightly grease a springform pan with coconut oil
  2. Put all the 'base' ingredients in a food processor and process until they are crumbly
  3. Remove the base ingredients from the processor and press down into the bottom of the pan, it should form a thin base. Place in the freezer for 1 hour.
  4. Good idea to start soaking the cashews now until the base has been in the freezer for an hour and you start making the next section.
  5. Once the cashews have been soaking for half an hour, combine all the 'filling' ingredients in your food processor, but this time, leave the processor running until it is a very smooth consistency.
  6. Pour on top of the 'base' section in the springform pan and then place it back in the freezer overnight.
  7. The next day combine the thawed frozen strawberries and a small amount of water in the food processor until the mixture is runny.
  8. Pour this over the 'filling' layer in the pan and put back in the freezer just for about 15 minutes, until it is very cold but not completely frozen.
  9. Prepare the ingredients you wish to have as the decoration, I used strawberries and crushed almonds, blueberries would work great as well.
  10. Place the decorative fruits on top of the cake before the 'topping' layer has completely set.
  11. Return to the freezer until 15 minutes before it needs to be consumed.

Note: We had to make a 40 minute trip to where our lunch was today and the cake didn't like that one bit, it kept it's form and we had cold things around it to try and keep the temperature down, but the strawberry topping layer begins to melt once it's been out of the fridge for about 20 minutes or so. We popped it into a freezer as soon as we were at our destination and it was fine - but just a word of warning! Keep it frozen until about 10 minutes or so before serving for best results.

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Food

Recipe: Raspberry + Banana Iceblocks

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Photography by me, set styled by Kymberly Louise.

If you're located where I am (Brisbane, Australia), the weather has been pretty nasty lately. Temperatures have soared and so it means we can whip out the cool snacks! I love that these are so easy to make and they don't take very long to set.


Makes 4 iceblocks
(per 1) Carbs 28.6g / Fat 8.2g / Protein 15.8g / Calories 186

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Ingredients:

  • 60g chopped cashews
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp coconut nectar
  • (choose one of either for step #3) 1 tbsp organic honey or coconut nectar

Method
1. Blend bananas, raspberries, almond milk and coconut nectar until the mix is very smooth.
2. Pour into ice-cream moulds and either put the lids on or insert a paddle pop stick into each one.
3. After the ice block is set you can remove it and dip the top in organic honey or coconut nectar
4. Coat the honey or nectar in the chopped cashews

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