13 Foods That Could Give Your Memory a Boost

Looking for ways to keep your memory sharp, short-term as well as long?

Getting a good night’s sleep helps a lot. So does regular exercise. And whatever you can do to minimize stress in your life, do it.

But diet is important for a healthy brain, too! Many studies link nutrition and academic success, saying that hungry students may suffer from slower memory recall and lower math scores, among other failings. But it’s not just about eating enough food. Eating the right foods can possibly strengthen your memory at any age. Here are 15 foods that could help keep your memory sharp and your brain in good working order.

1) Blueberries and strawberries – A study at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that older women who ate two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries a day were able to forestall memory decline by 2-1/2 years, reports AARP.

2) Kale and spinach – That same Brigham and Women’s study also found a correlation between memory strength and dark leafy greens like kale and spinach. Wondering how to cook them? Care2 offers some delicious recipes here and here.

3) Salmon - Salmon, mackerel, sardines and other fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids have long been touted as a memory vitamin. Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed more than 6,000 people for four years to see how diet affected their memory. The frequent fish eaters (at least once a week) had a 12 percent slower memory decline than those who did not eat fish. The fish eaters also saw a 60 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

4) Curcumin – This Indian spice, the basis of curry, slows the build-up of plaque deposits, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. But you don’t only need to add it to curried vegetables. I make curried tuna noodle casserole that’s darn good! Just stir a tablespoon (or to taste) into the casserole before you bake it.

5) Grapes and Concord grape juice – “Concord grape juice contains polyphenol compounds, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” reports the National Institutes of Health.  ”Concord grape juice supplementation has been shown to reduce inflammation, blood pressure and vascular pathology… consumption of such flavonoid-containing foods is associated with a reduced risk for dementia.” Scientists enrolled twelve older adults with memory decline but not dementia in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial with Concord grape juice supplementation for 12 weeks. They observed “significant improvement in a measure of verbal learning and non-significant enhancement of verbal and spatial recall.”

6) Beets – I’ve never associated these vegetables with memory benefits, but given their high levels of anti-oxidants and folate, they should go on the list. Even if they didn’t help you remember where you put your keys, beets offer so many other health benefits, they’re worth eating on a regular basis.

7) Coffee – Sure, it gets you going in the morning, but can it help you remember WHERE you’re going? A study by researchers at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research found that women over 65 who drank three or more cups of coffee a day were better at recalling words than women who consumed little or no coffee. Java, anyone?

8) Hot Chocolate – Here’s my favorite headline ever: “Chocolate May Help Keep Brain Healthy.” Researchers found that older folks who consumed two cups of hot chocolate every day for 30 days saw improved blood flow to their brains and did better on memory tests. I bet they were happier, too!

9) Dark Chocolate – Don’t like to drink your chocolate? Eat a piece of dark chocolate. Researchers from the University of Reading examined the visual and cognitive effects of cocoa flavanols. In the study, 30 18 to 25-year-olds ate a dark chocolate bar containing 773 milligrams cocoa flavanols during one test session and a white chocolate bar containing none at a second test session a week later. Two hours after eating the bar at each session, they were tested on visual, memory and reaction time tasks. For working memory, those who ate a dark chocolate bar correctly identified more objects on a test than those eating white chocolate. Their times to correctly press a key in response to letters or numbers were also shorter.

10) Olive Oil – Studies show that eating olive oil can reverse memory loss and improving learning in laboratory animals. Why not people? Saint Louis University geriatrics researcher, Dr. Susan Farr, thinks it can have similar effects on humans, but it needs to be extra virgin olive oil, she says, which is the version that contains beneficial polyphenols.

11) Beans – Lentils and black beans help stabilize glucose, which the brain depends on for fuel. Digesting beans provides a steady stream of energy, rather than a spike, like candy might.

12) Pomegranate – Whether you eat the tiny seeds or drink a glass of juice, pomegranate is full of the antioxidants brains need to stay healthy and functioning well. “Probably no part of the body is more sensitive to the damage from free radicals as the brain,” says board-certified neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, author of The Better Brain Book.  

13) Freshly Brewed Tea – Skip the sugary instant stuff and take no more than three minutes to brew your own tea. In addition to the great taste, your brain could feel a boost from all the antioxidants in tea, as well as a bit of caffeine if you’re not drinking herbal. Plus, a cup of tea is a great way to calm down and get into a better mood if you’re feeling a little grumpy.

What’s your favorite memory-boosting food? Please share!

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90 comments

Melania Padilla
Melania P3 years ago

Awesome!

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

thanks

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

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Aasim Ahmed
Aasim Ahmed3 years ago

Almonds & Walnuts are also good for brain & thank you for sharing this great article

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Patrick G.
Patrick G.3 years ago

Somebody help me, i've forgotten the names of the memory foods.

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Jeramie D.
Jeramie D3 years ago

I add turmeric and black pepper to everything. Sure hope it helps me with something. I hid my computer while I went away last week and it took me hours to refind it. I love all these suggestions and try to eat them every day. Thank you.

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John B.
John B3 years ago

Thanks Diane for the informative article and very interesting supportive links.

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Aasim Ahmed
Aasim Ahmed3 years ago

thank you sharing writing & research on this excellent article written

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sandra mason
sandra m3 years ago

love dark chocolate. Brookside makes dark chocolate covered pomegranate. yum.

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