5 Brain Foods With Natural Nootropic Properties

Brain foods with natural nootropic properties

Health-conscious consumers often fall victim to a commercially driven mentality that emphasizes pills and “isolates” over whole, nutritious food. Nootropics, for example, which refers to a class of brain-boosting compounds usually taken as supplements, are plentiful in everyday food.

If you want to sharpen your cognitive abilities, it’s simply a matter of establishing a well-rounded, targeted diet. So, what are you looking to improve; memory, cognitive performance, clarity, or all of the above? When consumed regularly, the following foods may provide all of the above.

1. Avocados

Nutritionally dense avocados have grown in popularity as a staple of the keto diet, which has overshadowed their usefulness as a nootropic. In addition to the keto-friendly properties of this versatile food, several brain-boosting benefits are conferred from even small portions.

Lutein, a compound that belongs to the carotenoid family, is responsible for these benefits, which include improved cognition speed, learning and memory.[1][2] Elderly populations especially can benefit from these properties, as they have been indicated by research to fight degenerative processes in the brain.[3]

Additionally, avocados can be consumed without heating, which minimizes denaturing of the many health-promoting nutrients in the fruit, like healthy fatty acids and potassium. As a garnish, they can be paired with other “superfoods” to augment the brain-boosting potential.

2. Blueberries

We hear the term “antioxidant”a lot in advertisements for health drinks and other supplements, but many do not know what oxidation is or why it’s bad. Oxidation refers to the stripping of electrons from otherwise healthy cells, and it’s a process that spreads almost like a cancer.

Oxidized cells rip electrons from other cells, causing damage that can lead to a host of diseases and disorders. Antioxidants, like those found in blueberries,[4] fight this process. The darker the berry, the stronger the antioxidant content is.

A diet rich in blueberries can effectively improve brain health and memory while combating cognitive decline and lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.[5] Think of it as a shield around your brain.

3. Spinach

Spinach derives its brain-saving benefits from an ample supply of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and like blueberries, antioxidants.

When consumed in their whole form, spinach and other green leafy vegetables provide a cocktail of nutrients that improve blood supply to the brain and slow down cognitive decline associated with age.[6]

To strengthen these effects even more without preparing a separate dish, add extra virgin olive oil to your leafy greens. The phenols and healthy fats in EVOO serve to control inflammation in the brain while sharpening cognitive abilities and protecting from memory decline.[7]

4. Salmon

If you’re more of a meat eater, you can still pair extra virgin olive oil with salmon for a one-two punch of brain nutrition.

Wild salmon especially is loaded with the healthy kind of fat, known as omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids act as both building and repairing blocks for brain cells.

Salmon contains one of the vital types of omega fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is an essential nutrient for brain development and function.[8] Although the human body can synthesize DHA on its own, it does so insufficiently and so it is important to obtain it from dietary sources.[9]

5. Dark Chocolate

To the great surprise of many, certain sweets hold an important place in the world of nootropics. It’s important to note, however, that pure, dark chocolate is required in this case — not sugary “milk chocolate”.

Like blueberries and spinach, dark chocolates contain plenty of antioxidants that may protect against dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.[10]

The rich flavonoid content of dark chocolate enhances the brain’s ability to learn and apply new information. Flavonoids also enhance memory, both short-term and long-term recall.[11] After a superfood-rich meal, dark chocolate is the perfect dessert substitute.


  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/9/919/htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4638416/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5030441/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274736/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850944/
  6. https://n.neurology.org/content/90/3/e214
  7. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170621103123.htm
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728620/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3233581/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575938/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18412998

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