5 Foods That Can Help Improve Your Brainpower

4 min
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It’s no secret that the brain is a hungry organ. All of the thinking we do accounts for up to 25% of the body’s daily energy expenditure. A healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, known as macronutrients, is essential fuel for the synaptic firing of our busy brains. Generally speaking, a diet rich in fresh produce will have you covered. But there are some foods that offer an extra shot of brain power thanks to their high composition of certain micronutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals, that are particularly beneficial to brain health. Here are some super-powered eats worth adding to your diet if you’d like to give your cognitive functioning, memory, or concentration skills a boost.


Fermented foods like kimchi, a Korean staple made from cabbage or other vegetables, that have been spiced, salted, and preserved, are known to be great for gut health – and research shows they offer a brain boost too. The antioxidant-rich live cultures in kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and other fermented favorites can help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. As well as ensuring the gut-brain connection is in strong working order, these dishes have also been said to help improve cognitive function and potentially ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Pumpkin seeds

A powerful source of magnesium, zinc, iron, and copper, pumpkin seeds pack a punch for all-round health. Specifically for the brain, zinc is important for learning, memory, and neurogenesis – the creation of new neurons. Magnesium, meanwhile, has a calming effect on the nervous system, which is essential for optimal performance of the prefrontal cortex. Iron and copper are an important supply of energy – and just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day provides up to 42% of the required daily intake of these minerals. Other seeds and nuts that support brain function include sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts.

Free-range eggs

As well as being an excellent source of protein (consuming a diet deficient in protein can lead to decreased cognitive ability), pastured eggs are an incredibly nutrient-dense food. They are one of the best sources of choline, which is needed to produce a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that is important for memory and synaptic maintenance. Eggs are also high in B12, omega-3, selenium, B2, and Vitamin A, all of which support neurocognition. Popular plant-based sources of both protein and choline include tofu and other soy-based products, as well as quinoa.


The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric have made the orange-colored spice a popular ingredient in curried dishes and health drinks like jamu, as well as being taken as a dietary supplement. Along with its overall benefits to physical and mental health, turmeric’s main component curcumin can significantly improve memory and attention, according to one 18-month study. Researchers even propose that the low rate of Alzheimer’s among India’s elderly population may be due to the prevalence of turmeric in the nation’s diet. Other spices said to power the brain include saffron, cinnamon, and black pepper.


Green veggies like broccoli contain an antiapoptotic nutrient called vitamin K, which means they help prevent the degeneration of brain cells. One study suggests that the cognitive benefits of vitamin K include aiding visual memory, verbal fluency, and brain volume. Other leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are also a good source of vitamin K, as well as lutein, vitamin C, and other brain-protecting compounds.


All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals that influenced this article: Bioactive Compounds in Kimchi Improve the Cognitive and Memory Functions Impaired by Amyloid Beta; A Review of Fermented Foods with Beneficial Effects on Brain and Cognitive Function; Zinc in the Brain: Friend or Foe?; Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial; The Relationship between Vitamin K and Cognition: A Review of Current Evidence.

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