6 Foods For Your Brain

On Tuesday, I shared how greens are good for your brain (“Eat Your Greens. It’s Brain Food!“). Today I’ll share which are also good for the grey matter.

Let’s face it, keeping the brain healthy is just as important as keeping the rest of the body healthy. I doubt there is anyone who disagrees with that last sentence, but I do think many people are perplexed as to how we can keep cognitive functions clicking along at full speed. After all, we can feel our muscles getting stronger, and we can when out “guts” are well fed, but how do we know if our brains are being correctly exercised and fed? In future posts, I’ll discuss exercising the brain, but today the post is about feeding the brain.

In a Runner’s World article, six foods are given focus because of their brain protecting qualities. First item on the list is arugula, what I would consider a “stand in” for all leafy greens. (frankly, I would have chosen Swiss, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, “An Ode To Leafy Greens…”,  I’m a little biased) Arugula does a fantastic job of feeding the brain with loads of vitamin K, and can be easy found in grocery stores and served in restaurants.

Others on the list include:

  • Blueberries – could lower Alzheimer’s risks by 53%
  • Egg Yolks – Choline in yolks is beneficial in allowing brain cells to communicate more efficiently
  • Olive Oil – The antioxidant oleocanthal may play a part in the reduction of plaque formations in the brain
  • Salmon – The Omega 3’s in salmon help reduce inflammation and oxidation in the brain.
  • Walnuts – Like salmon, these nuts are rich in Omega 3 oils, and thus protect the brain.

For additional details on why these foods work for your brain, click on the Runner’s World link here. https://www.runnersworld.com/healthy-food/best-foods-brain-health

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An Ode to Leafy Greens: Nutritional Values and How to Eat Them

photo created by the author

Yesterday’s post (Tuesday, 1/16/18, “Eat Your Greens. It’s Brain Food!”) I shared how adding a serving of leafy greens to your diet everyday is good for your brain. In today’s post, you’ll see the nutritional values for a variety of leafy greens that you’ll find in the marketplace, and some ideas of how you can consume greens other than in a salad.

For a while, kale has been written about with the title, “Super Food”. When you review the nutrition data associated with kale, “Super Food” is a title that is well deserved. But there is one problem with kale; many people don’t like the flavor. The bitter, astringent flavor of most kale is too strong for the palates of most folks. Personally, I like to add kale to a salad, but I rarely eat it alone. The question then becomes, what other leafy greens offer similar health benefits but not with the same bitter kale bite?

Nutritional values of leafy greens

Click on the table to expand it for better viewing.

I’ve been promoting the virtues Swiss chard to family and friends for years. Chard is a mild flavored green like spinach, but I believe chard has a lot more going for it than spinach. First off, chard is very easy to grow. The colorful leafy chard is very forgiving in a harsh growing environment, like where I live in Central Texas. Conversely, I have found spinach to be rather demanding, especially water consumption. Secondly, the nutritional profile of chard is outstanding. At a 100gr per serving, Swiss chard delivers 692% of the daily vitamin K needs (limits neural damage to the brain and promotes bone growth), 204% of the daily vitamin A needs (critical for good vision, bone growth, cell reproduction and cell growth, and thus supports a healthy immune system and skin), 50% of the daily vitamin C needs (powerful antioxidant that supports your immune system), 22.5% of your daily iron needs (nearly the same amount as spinach, and iron is a much needed supplement for many women) and powerful antioxidants such a beta carotene which turns into vitamin A once the phyto-nutrient is consumed. Why not swap one Super Food for another, and enjoy what you are eating.

Once you start to look at the nutritional profiles of leafy greens, I think you can make a good case as to why you should consider adding one or more of these vegetables into your diet. I suggest that you just eat one by itself, but instead mix them together like a salad because the different flavors and textures make for a satisfying meal. Personal tips: I like to add mustard greens to my salads. The sharp peppery-horseradish mustard flavor adds a punch of flavor to a mild lettuce salad. You don’t need too much to add a “wow” factor to your salad.

Here are some ideas on where to add greens into your diet:

  • Make a salad: This is obvious, and I already touched on this idea.
  • Make a sandwich or a wrap: Add mustard greens, spinach, and watercress to your next sandwich and give your next bite some extra crunch.
  • Add to soup: Hearty vegetable soups like minestrone pair well with collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard. Many Asian soup recipes pair well with bok choy and cabbages.
  • Stir-fry: Add chopped spinach, bok choy or Swiss chard to your stir fry.
  • Steamed: Steaming collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach until they are slightly soft.
  • Saute: Quickly saute your greens with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper.
  • In an omelet: One of my favorite ways to add greens to my diet. Saute the Swiss chard for spinach, then fold the greens into an omelet with tomatoes and little feta cheese. So good!

What are some other ways you have added greens to your diet. Please share your thoughts with the rest of us.

References:
https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2917?manu=&fgcd=&ds=Standard%20Reference
https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/vegetable-nutrition.html