Yogurt parfaits are shown with blueberries, granola and raspberries.
A great breakfast to jumpstart the brain? Berries and yogurt are celebrated brain foods. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Want to keep your mind as sharp as possible? Tend to your belly.

Here’s some food for thought: Research has shown that what you eat plays a role in how efficient your brain is, and that certain foods may help lower your risk for developing dementia.

By choosing the right foods, you can promote healthier blood vessels and prevent inflammation, which has been linked to cognitive decline.

10 foods that’ll keep your thinker thinking properly:

1. Berries

Cherries, blueberries and strawberries provide antioxidants to promote better blood flow and protect brain tissue. Studies show they improve memory and decrease the risk of dementia. Aim to include at least one cup of berries in your diet each day.

2. Green leafy vegetables

These are excellent sources of folate, flavonoids and carotenoids. These nutrients help improve blood flow and aid in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material. Include three to six servings daily of spinach, kale, collard greens or broccoli.


Foods to avoid or eat less

  • Saturated fats. These are artery-clogging fats that have been shown to increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s.
  • Trans fats. They have a negative impact on your heart and may decrease blood flow, so avoid them. They are common in coffee creamers, margarine, commercial frosting or some nut butters.
  • Enriched, bleached or refined flours. Limit these by making at least half of your grains whole grains.
  • High fructose corn syrup. Look for these in breads, yogurts or condiments and avoid them.
  • Excess calories. Too many pounds will make your body less efficient, impacting blood flow to your brain. So pay attention to hunger cues and eat mindfully for your body and mind.

3. Fish

Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in the structure of the brain cell membrane and reduce inflammatory processes linked with cognitive decline. They are considered feel-good fats because they have been shown to influence mood and ward off depression. Not a fan of fish? Consider talking to your doctor about adding an omega-3 supplement.

4. Flaxseeds or chia seeds

These contain alpha-linolenic acid, which can help promote healthy brain development and heart health. Aim for five servings of these each week.

5. Coffee or tea

Some studies have shown that, in moderate doses (three cups or less daily), caffeine boosts long-term memory performance and thinking ability. Talk to your doctor before adding this to your diet.

6. Probiotics

To boost blood flow and improve your mood, enjoy a daily dose of plain yogurt or other probiotic-containing foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha or miso soup.

7. Whole grains

If you eat grains, aim for three servings each day. Include a variety, such as quinoa, oatmeal, whole grain breads or popcorn (without added salt or butter) to improve brain health.

8. Nuts

One serving of nuts includes healthy fats, fiber and important vitamins and minerals that promote healthy blood flow. Incorporate an ounce of walnuts, almonds, pecans or pistachios five times each week, and choose unsalted or low sodium versions for a healthy heart.

9. Beans

Beans are an excellent source of folate, one of the B vitamins. Eating three servings or more each week is beneficial to your mind as well as your heart and gut.

10. Plant-based oils

This includes olive, avocado, peanut or sunflower oils that contain healthy polyunsaturated fats, which reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.