Your diet is an incredibly important part of your overall health and well being.  There are foods out there that can lower your blood pressure, help prevent certain diseases and illnesses, and keep your mind healthy!  Adding a few of these nutrient-rich foods to your diet can boost your brainpower, improve your memory, and reduce your risk of getting heart disease or diabetes.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is an excellent food to add to your diet, as it is a great source of calcium and vitamins A and D.  Additionally, it's packed with great proteins that prime dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved with many functions in the brain, including behavior, cognition, motor function, sleep, general mood, attention span, and memory.

Nuts and Seeds

Walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, and all kinds of other nuts and seeds are excellent sources vitamin E, a vitamin shown to correspond with decreased cognitive decline as you age.  It is speculated that even an ounce of raw or roasted nuts every day can help reduce your risk of heart disease and some age-related degenerative illnesses.  

Beans and Other Legumes

Pinto beans, navy beans, and black beans, among others, can lower cholesterol and and fight heart disease, both of which are beneficial to keeping your brain (and the rest of you, too) happy and healthy.  Beans are also an excellent, economical source of fiber, which can help stabilize glucose levels.  Since the brain (and everything else) needs glucose for fuel and relies on a steady stream of it, this can also be helpful to brain health.  

Tuna and Other Fish

Tuna (even canned tuna), sardines, herring, and salmon are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to brain function and can reduce your risk of heart disease and dementia, in addition to lowering your blood pressure and boosting your mood.  Fish like salmon and mackerel in particular are also great sources for vitamin D, which helps ward off cognitive decline with age.  

Apples and Other Fruits

Apples, oranges, bananas, and blueberries are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants that are great for your heart, reduce your risk of cancer, and boost your brain's overall performance.  Berries like blueberries and blackberries are also particularly effective in keeping your mind healthy because of their antioxidant power.  They can help protect the brain against oxidative stress and can reduce the risk of age-related degenerative conditions.  

Avocados

Avocados are a "good fat" which contributes to healthy blood flow and a healthy brain.  They are a monounsaturated fat, with properties that can lower blood pressure.  Since hypertension is a risk factor in the decline of cognitive ability, a lower blood pressure is also a great thing to have for overall brain health.  (Even though they're good fat, they're still high in calories, so eat them with that in mind).  

Concord Grape Juice and Red Wine

As with many other entries on this list, the logic goes: if it's good for your heart, it's good for your brain.  Red wine and concord grape juice contain polyphenols that have long been known to promote good heart health, but these same polyphenols are also now shown to improve spatial memory and verbal learning skills after a period of daily consumption.  

Herbs and Spices

Spices and herbs like turmeric, cinnamon, and sage may additionally be very beneficial for your heart and brain health.  A bit of cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, and contains compounds which may inactivate certain tau proteins associated with Alzheimer's!  Turmeric too, a spice found in curry powder, also reduces inflammation and lowers cholesterol, and in turn improves blood flow to your brain!

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