We always hear how a healthy diet can help you lose weight, but there is more than one reason to eat foods low in fat and high in healthy nutrients – they boost your brainpower. Brain foods might not make you an instant genius, but by feeding your brain in much the same way you feed your muscles or eat to maintain a healthy heart, you can think more clearly and maintain your energy level throughout the day. What better way to prepare yourself for going back to school?
There aren’t many studies on brain power and the food that can boost it, but there are 4 main nutrients and chemicals in food that research has found work in a positive way with the brain. Glucose gives the brain energy, fatty acids like omega-3 strengthen your memory synapses, amino acids from protein-rich foods will help keep connect neurotransmitters like serotonin for sleep and memory, and antioxidants blocks stress so your brain can focus on other things.
Now that we know what types of nutrients we need to feed our brains, here are some types of foods we can eat to get them:
- Walnuts – An antioxidant, walnuts fight cancer, are a great source of heart-friendly fats, and help lower the bad LDL cholesterol. They’re also rich in omega-3, so if you don’t like fish you can get your fix from walnuts
- Almonds – Not into dairy? Get your calcium from almonds. They’re also high in vitamin E and almond skin is full of flavonoids.
- Chia Seeds – Whether you eat the white, dark brown, or black variety, chia seeds are rich in calcium and are a great source of omega-3 fats. I can testify that they are amazing on oatmeal
- Hemp seeds – They help your heart stay healthy, improve digestion, and some say they help you lose weight by keeping you full for longer periods of time. They’ll even help control your blood sugar and give you a boost of energy
- Flax seeds – High in fibre, a great source of omega-3, and easy to sprinkle on everything you eat, flax seeds will also help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men
- Raisins or Dates – A snack staple in most houses, raisins will help with hypertension, ward off cancer, and have enough iron to help in the treatment of anemia
- Coconut – Odds are you’ve seen a lot of the good old coconut lately, and whether you eat it in the shredded variety or use it as an oil for baking and cooking, coconut has lauric acid which fights off bacteria and viruses and can make you less hungry during the day
- Dark Chocolate – Full of fibre, dark chocolate is also full of antioxidants and might lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
I’ve been experimenting with brain food lately, and found a recipe that takes all of those nutrients and combines them into one delicious energy bar. Although they’re chock full of healthy ingredients, they taste almost like a chocolate bar. The local coffee shop sells them and calls them ‘Brain Bites,’ but I just call them delicious.
I whipped up a batch of these little gems today – check out the recipe and my photos for the steps to make them.
You’ll need a mini muffin tin for these, and with it you’ll be able to make 24 brain bites. I keep them in the fridge during the day and pop one out when I’m ready to eat it. It really does give you a great boost of energy, and they fill you up when you’ve hit your 3 pm slump.
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup ground flax seeds
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup dates
1-2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, if needed
Dark chocolate for melting
Some people like to use a food processor, but I just crush everything up in my trusty blender. You can add everything but the coconut oil to the blender, making sure your dates are pitted.
Once I’ve added all the dry ingredients, I use the pulse function until everything is well blended.
From there, I pour everything back into a bowl and add the melted coconut oil so it will stick together.
Then I press the mixture into the muffin tin.
Take a double boiler or use your microwave to melt your chocolate. It should be smooth and lump free, but be careful not to set it to high as it will burn. Once you have your melted chocolate, drizzle it over the top of each Brain Bite.
My daughter loves Nutella so I tried a few with a Nutella topping too.
Pop them in the fridge to let them set for approximately 1/2 hour and they’re ready to eat.
And if you’re wondering whether you could get your kids to eat them, the answer is yes. My kids would never knowingly touch flax with a 10 foot pole, but they absolutely love these.
Try them and see – these Brain Bites and other foods with these nutrients will keep you healthy, give you energy, and may even clear your head when you’re feeling overloaded.
Are you ready to get cooking? Check out Best Buy’s full selection of kitchen gadgets and small appliances:
Muffin tins and everything you need for baking is in Bakeware.
Blend anything with a great blender from Small Kitchen Appliances
Quinoa is another great brain food. Check out my recipes for quinoa salad