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Is There Really Such a Thing as Brain Food?

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Is There Really Such a Thing as Brain Food?

Take a long hard look at a shelled walnut. It really looks very little like the majority of other nuts, and closer than anything, it resembles a human brain. Does the visual resemblance qualify it as “brain food?” No, resemblance alone does not hold any true correlation between what a food is and what it does (if so, half the population would likely be eating a lot more bananas and zucchini). Walnuts, long touted as a sort of brain food, because they are loaded with omega-3s, which help with cognitive function, among other things. Walnuts are also shown to increase melatonin levels, which helps regulate patterns and normalize inconsistencies. Walnuts also boast sizable amounts of copper, iron, magnesium and calcium, and other nutrients essential to good brain function, as well as good health. But really, does this make them truly a “brain food” or is it the beneficial fat, found in a variety of foods, the deciding factor?

We are all familiar with the highly revered and adored omega-3 fatty acids that are naturally occurring in certain nuts, fish, seeds, and even kiwi fruit. According to a report in Psychology Today, “The health of your brain depends not only on how much (or little) fat you eat but on what kind it is. Intellectual performance requires the specific type of fat found most commonly in fish (omega-3s).” So with this information, should we bulk up on all manner of omega-3 energy bars and omega-3 fortified eggs to keep our brain firing at the hyperactive level of an 8-year-old preternatural genius?

The road to higher brain function is more likely paved with a few key (and minimally processed) simple foods that will deliver the omegas and the power to keep us all firing at full speed.

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Read more: Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, Health, Mental Wellness, , , , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

66 comments

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