5 Recipes to Boost Brain Health
Pan-Seared Salmon with Pear and Walnut Spinach Salad
Wild salmon has less saturated fat, fewer calories, and 5 to 10 times fewer contaminants and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) than farm-raised (in early studies, POPs have been linked to impaired brain development, type 2 diabetes, and obesity). There’s no need to give up all farmed salmon, and eating some is always better than none. Aim to eat at least 1 to 2 servings of omega-3 rich fatty fish weekly.
Plus, a 2014 study from the University of Pittsburgh found that people who eat fish of any type on a weekly basis have larger gray matter volumes in the brain—the area responsible for memory and speech—than those who don't.
A 2015 study found that people who ate one to two servings of leafy greens per day had the mental abilities of someone 11 years younger than those who ate none.
Chickpea Farro Salad
Diets higher in whole grains have been linked to lower levels of inflammation and cognitive decline; whole grains are a staple in the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. This salad combines brain-boosting farro, chickpeas, and olive oil with the bright crunch of fresh celery. Simple, quick, and delicious.
Orange-Mango Gritty with Turmeric and Walnuts
Here's our take on Paula Wolfert’s daily “gritty”—the opposite of a smoothie thanks to all the nuts, seeds, and spices. The walnut-flaxseed combination adds 2,000mg omega-3s to this satisfying sip, along with a pleasantly nutty balance to the sweet mango and bright citrus. Yogurt lends tangy good-for-the-gut probiotics, and fresh turmeric adds a bright, peppery zing. Some researchers say the curcumin in fresh turmeric is more bioavailable than dried, as some essential oils and pungency are lost in the drying process. We love it for its brighter, livelier flavor. If you can’t find fresh root (a close relative to gingerroot), substitute 1⁄2 teaspoon dried turmeric.
Tuna, Egg, and Avocado Toast
Don’t toss all the excess oil from your jar of tuna—it contains a lot of the vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from the fish. We use this nutrient-dense oil rather than mayo to dress the salad, then pile it on a smear of avocados, which are packed with monounsaturated fats that encourage blood flow and boost brain activity. We love this combination on whole-grain toast but you can also toss it over pasta, greens, or grains.
Garlicky Steamed Clams
By steaming the clams, your brain will benefit from every ounce of B12 goodness (42mcg per serving); as the clams steam, their juices will drip down into the pot to create a wonderfully flavorful, healthy broth. Hence the “sop sauce”—you’ll want to slurp or soak up every drop. Fresh clams should be closed or just slightly opened before steaming; you’ll know they’re ready when they open up nice and wide.