Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Brain

Eating a healthy diet can have far-reaching benefits. Certain foods provide nutrients that can protect our blood vessels and organs such as the brain and heart. While it’s important to avoid eating too much junk food that can have negative effects on our health, it’s equally vital to actively eat foods that we know are beneficial to our health. In this article, we’ll explore research into nutrition for brain health and cognitive function.

Foods That Can Contribute to Brain Health

There are many foods that can contribute to brain health. According to research, these are some of the best brain-supporting foods out there:

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like, broccoli, spinach, and kale are rich in antioxidants and vitamin K. Vitamin K has been linked to improved memory and cognitive function.

Nuts and Seeds

Many seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, are rich in magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. Each of these nutrients helps to support roles in brain health, such as memory, learning, and nerve signaling. Nuts, walnuts in particular, are rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, which helps protect brain cells and supports cognitive function. Studies have shown that nuts can improve brain function and protect against neurodegenerative diseases.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, and sardines, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are crucial for brain health as they contribute to the building of brain and nerve cells. Omega-3s are also known to improve learning and memory and have been linked to lower levels of depression and slower age-related cognitive decline.


Berries are packed with antioxidants, which can protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. The antioxidants in some berries have been found to improve communication between brain cells, enhance memory, and delay short-term memory loss.

nutrition for brain health

Whole Grains

Healthy whole grains provide complex carbohydrates, a great source of consistent energy for our organs – including the brain! This steady energy can help to regulate emotions and mood, contributing to our social cognition skills, as well as aiding in memory and learning.

Green Tea

Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, which can improve brain function by enhancing memory and focus. The antioxidants in green tea also protect the brain and may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.


This versatile grain contains iron and vitamin B, which are linked to improved attention and encoding of memories.


Like fatty fish, avocadoes are rich in omega fatty acids which help with membrane fluidity, memory, and brain development (for those who are pregnant or nursing). They also contain vitamin E which is known to help protect brain cells from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, which protect our cells from free radicals. It also contains flavinols, which are though to increase blood flow to the brain. They are known to aid with cognitive functions such as visual-spatial awareness, processing speed, and memory.

Foods to Avoid or Limit for Brain Health


While moderate consumption of certain types of alcohol, like red wine, may have some brain benefits, excessive alcohol intake can lead to brain damage. Chronic alcohol abuse can result in brain volume reduction, disrupt neurotransmitter balance, and cause cognitive impairment.

Sugary Snacks and Drinks

Sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, and certain fruit juices have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. High sugar intake can lead to diabetes, which is also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

Deep Fried Food

Research has shown that fried foods may cause inflammation in the blood vessels leading to the brain. This has caused individuals who consume a larger amount of deep fried foods to perform worse on cognitive tests.

Highly Processed Foods

Highly processed foods, like chips, candy, instant noodles, and ready-made meals, are typically high in sugar, added fats, and salt. These foods can contribute to brain inflammation and impair memory and learning.

Artificial Sweeteners

Sweeteners such as aspartame are found in many sugar-free products. Some research suggests that high consumption of aspartame can negatively affect cognitive performance and even increase the risk of mood disorders.

A Few More Brain Heath Tips…

We love with all things brain health, neuroplasticity, and cognition. So if you’re looking for ways to be kinder to your brain, we have you covered! Along with a healthy diet, here are some tips that might help to improve your brain health and cognition:

  • Get enough rest. Sleep helps to revitalize our brains, which can help our executive function skills such as planning and problem-solving.
  • Socialize. Studies show that social connection may help us live happier, more cognitively healthy lives.
  • Get some sunshine. Research tells us that sunlight can help with our learning, memory, and attention skills.
  • Exercise your brain. Working on specific cognitive tasks may help to strengthen our cognitive skills over time.


  • Certain foods may contribute to a healthier brain! Nutrition for brain health can include: whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and berries.
  • Certain other foods are unfortunately pretty bad for our brains. These include: sugary drinks and snacks, artificial sweeteners, highly processed foods, and deep fried food.
  • A healthy diet, along with habits like getting enough sleep, socializing, and spending some time in sunshine, may contribute to a healthier brain, improved cognitive function, and an improved mood!
Aly Castle

Aly is HappyNeuron Pro’s Content Specialist. She is passionate about mental health and well-being and loves utilizing her design background to share important cognitive information clearly and understandably.

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