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Best Nutrients for Memory and Cognition

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.

Bowl of blueberries

The brain is constantly undergoing neuroplasticity, meaning it's growing and changing throughout our lifetime. One way to support that process and enhance memory function is by eating functional foods, says neuroscientist and neurodegenerative disease researcher Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D.

Here are her go-to nutrients and food sources for a sharper brain:

Omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats are rich in eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid which boost cognition and ensure the fluidity of cell membranes throughout the body. They specifically support memory by maintaining brain volume in the hippocampus as we age. Eating sustainable fatty fish - like wild cod, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout - is a protein-packed way to get more omega-3s. For those on a plant-based or vegan diet, Willeumier recommends marine algae and seaweed, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds.

Polyphenols. These plant-based dietary antioxidants are found abundantly in berries and have been shown to slow cognitive decline. One study found that adults who frequently ate blueberries and strawberries had the slowest rate of cognitive decline across all subjects. Polyphenols are also great for heart health, so snack on berries regularly for a health boost!

Hippocrates is attributed with saying: “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” So, if you’re looking to protect your brain, memory, and overall health, be sure to have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols in your daily diet!

Bowl of dates


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