Improving your memory with your diet

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We all want a strong memory, whether we’re studying for a test, preparing for a major presentation or adjusting to life’s stages. If you’re looking to improve your memory, brain-healthy foods are a great option! A healthy diet is an important step to improving brain health. MercyOne registered dietician Stephanie Small has recommendations for what you can add to your diet for a stronger memory and better brain health.

What foods are good for my memory and how do I eat them?

You can add a few different foods to your diet to improve your memory. Make sure to incorporate a variety to create well-balanced meals.

  1. Green vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. You can obviously incorporate veggies into your salads but there are other meals if you don’t want a salad! Foods like shredded zucchini can be incorporated into meatloaves, chili or even homemade cupcakes.
  2. Fish is a rich source for Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is essential to brain and heart health. Some of the best fish include salmon, sardines and tuna.
  3. Berries are a source of fiber and antioxidants that support the brain’s memory function. Cherries, blackberries and blueberries are a great snack when you’re feeling hungry or a tasty dessert. If you want to create a special treat, add a little whip cream on top!
  4. Walnuts are a healthy source of fats and Omega-3. They are well-known for being heart-healthy, but they may also help with cognitive function! Small said, “A handful of plain walnuts or mixed in trail mix is a snack go-to for me.”
  5. Cumin contains antioxidants and enhances the flavors of some of your everyday meals! You can add cumin to tacos, chili and more.
  6. Eggs are a nutrient-rich source of protein. Add eggs to your breakfast or as a tasty topping on a burger. “I enjoy just a plain scrambled egg or an egg scramble with yellow cherry tomatoes, zucchini and green pepper,” Small said.

What foods could damage my brain?

Foods with low nutritional value may influence your mood and memory. A brain healthy diet avoids foods that are high in sugar and low in nutritional benefits. Highly processed foods and sugary drinks should be kept as occasional, sweet treats. The main part of your diet should be the foods listed above. Foods that should be kept to a minimum include:

  1. Energy drinks
  2. Packaged dessert products (like Twinkies)
  3. Sugary coffees
  4. Fast food meals
  5. Soft drinks

What to eat the morning of a test or presentation?

The breakfast before an exam or presentation can be crucial to test success. “A well-balanced meal can be just the fuel you need to keep you focused,” Small said.

The USDA’s MyPlate provides a great guide to planning the well-balanced meal you need. It suggests servings of vegetables, fruits, grain, protein and dairy. Check out the MyPlate website for more information.

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