Our brain is just 2% of your entire body, but it consumes more than 20% of your daily calorie intake!
Why? Because it is the most important organ of your body that is responsible for the upkeep of your involuntary functions, like the beating of your heart, expansion of your lungs, and filtration in your kidneys, and for the voluntary actions you do throughout the day, from the tiniest twitch of disgust on your face to the complex process of eating food.
And since 60% of your brain is made up of fatty tissues, your brain is fueled primarily by the fats in your diet.
Therefore, you should never cut out fats completely from your diet. Unless you voluntarily want to be depressed, get dementia, or lose your memory. And should be careful of what you eat since your brain is affected by your diet for better or for worse.
So, now that we have set the precedent, let us dive straight into the topic for the day - Indian foods that make you smarter and boost your memory.
After all, everyone wants a slice of what the Indians are having! :)
We cannot talk about brain-boosting foods and not put walnuts first on the list. The nut even looks like a mini brain, for God's sake!
This brain-boosting ability of walnut is because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA. And numerous studies have shown that DHA is directly responsible for improving your cognitive abilities and reversing the degenerative effects of age on the brain.
In fact, studies have even shown that pregnant women who consume at least 1 cup of walnuts every day during term end up giving birth to kids who grow up smart.
Eggs are rich in choline, which is a B-complex vitamin needed by the body to produce Acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter. So if you want to be smarter, you should definitely add it to your daily diet (unless you are a vegetarian!).
Coffee can enhance your short-term memory, prevent Alzheimer's disease, relieve headaches, and reduce the risk of Parkinsonism. Just make sure you don't overdo it since too much caffeine can make your irritable, hyperactive, and precipitate migraines.
Tomatoes are rich in two types of carotenoids (a.k.a, provitamin A), lycopene and beta-carotene, which have strong antioxidant properties capable of scavenging free radicals that are attracted to your brain because of its high concentration of fats.
Just remember: Consume tomatoes along with some healthy fats, like a dash of olive oil or some avocados because carotenoids are fat-soluble provitamins and are absorbed better by your body in the presence of fats.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which are healthy for the entire body, especially your heart and brain.
Plus, avocados can regulate your blood pressure and reduce your blood cholesterol level. So it's a win-win all around!
#6 Whole grain
Brown rice, oats, whole wheat, bran, and barley are called whole grains because they are unrefined, and so have all their nutrients intact, including the grain germ. That's why you should consume them instead of refined grains, as they can supply your body with a high amount of fibre, vitamin E, and antioxidants that are capable of scavenging free radicals in your body and improving your brain's cognitive abilities.
#7 Dark Chocolate
When it comes to chocolate, the rule of thumb is this: Darker the chocolate, better it is for your brain.
In fact, studies have proven that 85% and higher dark chocolate, while may be quite bitter to taste, is extremely good for your brain because it is rich in flavonols, a class of compounds known for their strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are capable of healing brain injuries, like concussion, and also improve your memory power.
Plus, dark chocolate stimulates serotonin production in your brain, which is the body's feel-good hormone, and thus it is good for improving your mood and alleviating depression.
#8 Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are native to South and Central America, and were once part of the diet of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. But these days these inexpensive seeds are available everywhere, including India!
So why are they considered good for your brain? Because these tiny seeds are rich in brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties capable of keeping your brain free of diseases and free radical-induced degeneration.
Caution: Don't eat them plain, as they are hygroscopic in nature and swell up to 10 times their size in the presence of water, including saliva, and so can lead to a blockage in your food pipe.
Soak them in 1:4 ratio of water overnight and enjoy them the next morning!
Eating at least one serving of spinach (or any other type of leafy greens) can make you smarter because it contains a high amount of vitamin K and folate in it, which studies have shown can sharpen your mind and prevent age-related cognitive degeneration.
#10 Turmeric Powder
The turmeric root is native to the Indian subcontinent and has been used for thousands of years for cooking meals and for treating various ailments because of its phenomenal health benefits. And one such benefit is its ability to boost your brain power.
Turmeric powder accomplishes this through its chief medicinal compound, curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, studies have shown that senior Indians suffer from Alzheimer's disease 4 to 5 times less than their American counterparts because of a lifetime of consuming turmeric through food.
So if you are an Indian, rejoice! This yellow spice has been making you smarter since childhood.
And if you are not (and don't like curries), have a glass of warm turmeric milk every day to reap the benefits of this phenomenal spice.
Also called dal in Hindi, lentils are legumes just like nuts and beans, and therefore, high in protein and healthy fats. Plus, it is rich in vitamin B12 (folate), which is necessary for maintaining the health of your nervous system and brain.
In fact, one of the commonest signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is the reduced ability to concentrate on tasks, perpetual tiredness, and tingling sensation in the hands and legs.
Another ancient food grain, the quinoa seeds were first discovered by the Incas almost 4000 years ago and christened "the gold of the Incas" because of its phenomenal ability to boost stamina.
This is because quinoa seeds are mostly protein with two times higher fibre content in them than any other food grain. And they are packed with 9 essential amino acids, vitamin B2, magnesium, and manganese, which are required for the upkeep of your brain.
But that's not all. Quinoa is also rich in iron, the mineral needed by your body to produce haemoglobin in your blood. And since your brain consumes 20% of your daily oxygen intake, it is very important to keep your body's iron stores fully stocked, so your red blood cells remain healthy and functional.
#13 Red Cabbage
Red and purple cabbage are an offshoot of the widely-known green cabbage that develop their red colour if they are grown in an acidic soil. In fact, when these cabbages come in contact with alkaline substances, they change colour and become green-yellow!
This colour-changing property of the red cabbage is an attribute of its main class of compound, anthocyanins. And besides revealing the chemical composition of the native soil, they are very beneficial for your brain's health, as studies have proven that they can reduce plaque-formation in the brain that leads to Alzheimer's disease.
Ask any Indian what you should eat to become smarter and they will tell you to eat almonds that have been soaked overnight in water and then consumed without the peel.
This age-old wisdom has been passed down through generation because of the observable effects of eating almonds on your brain. And this is because almonds are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, riboflavin (which is a B-complex vitamin), and L-carnitine, all of which improve cognitive abilities and prevent dementia and brain degeneration.
Beetroots are wonderful vegetables known for their ability to leave your tongue pink after you eat them. And while they directly do not have any brain-stimulating abilities, they are rich in nitrates, which dilate your blood vessels and increase blood flow to your brain.
Rosemary is not a herb native to India, but post-globalization, it is available in practically all supermarkets. And this herb is exceptionally good for your brain because it can improve your memory and cognition. In fact, the scent of rosemary alone is enough to jog your short-term memory!
Kids might hate broccoli, but it is an extremely nutritious vegetable packed with vitamins A, C, B-complex, and K, calcium, and fibres.
That's why having more of this veggie is extremely good for your brain, as all these elements are known for their incredible ability to scavenge free radicals and improve your cognition.
#18 Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and B-complex vitamins that are great for your brain's health.
Plus, they contain tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid needed for the production of serotonin, the feel-good hormone, in your body.
Studies have shown that those who eat one cup of blueberries every day improve their brain activity, reduce their risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, and boost their memory within 16 days.
#20 Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can improve your brain power and cognition. No wonder coastal Indians are smarter than their inland counterparts!
In fact, numerous studies have found that pregnant women who had fish at least two times a week during their pregnancy gave birth to more social and communicative children than non-fish-eating mothers.
Just make sure you eat good quality fish harvested from unpolluted waters, as those fished from dirty rivers and seas always have a lot of dangerous heavy metals in their meat, like mercury.
#21 Red Grapes
Red grapes contain a lot more flavonoids, like anthocyanins, in them than green grapes. So stock them up as they are extremely good for your brain's health and for preventing neurodegenerative disorders, like dementia and Alzheimer's.
Watermelons do not have a direct effect on your brain, but they are mostly made of water, and therefore, good for preventing dehydration, which is known to affect the brain badly.
Plus, its seeds are rich in the essential amino acid tyrosine!
Peanuts are high-protein legumes that are known to make you smarter.
Why? Because they are packed with vitamin E, which is a strong antioxidant, and thiamine (a B-complex vitamin), which has the ability to protect your neural membranes.
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