A well-planned vegan diet can provide you with all the nutrients you need to survive and thrive.
In fact, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a plant-based diet is beneficial to our health and can help fight certain conditions and chronic diseases, however, did you know that some vegan foods are also powerful brain boosters?
An ever-growing pool of studies is revealing the long-range health benefits of plants, including for mental function.
Weave some of the following 12 best vegan foods for memory into your daily menu, to give your brainpower a real boost.
#1 – Dark Chocolate
To all dark chocolate fans, we have great news. Research shows it helps to boost your brain power, including reduced risk of mental decline, enhanced cognition, and improved memory.
A 2018 review published in Nutrients found that flavonoids like those found in dark chocolate yield impressive cognitive benefits – particularly in tasks involving executive function, processing speed, and memory. The study showed that those who took 50mg of epicatechin (flavonol in dark chocolate) experienced significantly more brain benefits than the control group. (1)
Related: 20 Best Brain Food for Vegetarians
#2 – Blueberries
Blueberries can help you with short-term memory thanks to their high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are a group of plant polyphenols that fight inflammation and oxidative stress in your body. This can help offset neurological diseases. (2)
Not only that, antioxidants like those in blueberries are shown to improve signaling between your brain cells. Leading to improved processing speed and mental clarity.
#3 – Chia Seeds
The reason why chia seeds are one of the best vegan foods for memory is their superior omega-3 fatty acid content.
Believe it or not, chia seeds have much more omega-3s than walnuts and 8x the amount of EPA (omega-3 fatty acid) than salmon per ounce! They’re an excellent source of nutritional goodness, and at the low calorie cost too.
#4 – Kale
Kale’s so healthy it even has its own National Kale Day.
When you look at its nutritional data, it’s easy to see why it’s touted as one of the healthiest foods out there. One cup of kale will provide you with heaps of vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin D. It will also provide you with minerals like manganese and magnesium, all of which are essential for brain health.
A famous 2017 study published in Neurology showed that people who ate leafy greens like kale had the same level of cognitive function as people who were 11 younger, when compared against people that ate little to no leafy greens. (3)
#5 – Turmeric
The list of turmeric brain benefits is seemingly endless. Most of the studies done on turmeric actually focused on curcumin, a compound that gives turmeric its distinct color.
A 2016 study from the British Journal of Nutrition showed that a curcumin supplement can prevent cognitive decline in older adults. Not only that, the curcumin in turmeric also boosts mood, acts as a natural anti-depressant, and helps with brain fog. Turmeric is regarded as one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory spices and can be as strong as some arthritis painkillers.
#6 – Pumpkin Seeds
These delicious green seeds are one of the best natural sources of zinc, a trace mineral that enhances your memory and information processing. Zinc is also involved in maintaining healthy hormone levels, and gets depleted when you sweat.
#7 – Broccoli
Broccoli belongs to cruciferous vegetables that contain sulforaphane, a compound that’s been shown to protect the brain. (4)
Broccoli also has heaps of vitamin K, which helps your brain build sphingolipids – fatty compounds that your brain cell membranes are made out of. One study showed that people with an early stage of Alzheimer’s tend to have lower vitamin K intake compared to people without the condition. (5)
#8 – Sage
The saying that sage helps to sharpen the mind was long considered an old wives’ tale. But, according to the latest evidence published in Advances in Nutrition, sage extracts or essential oils may very well improve your memory, attention, mood, and executive function. (6)
Related: 5 Surprising Sage Brain Benefits
#9 – Beets
Beets are an excellent source of nitrates. These are compounds that turn to nitric oxide in your body. And what does nitric oxide do, you ask? Well, it helps to relax and widen your blood vessels, which stimulates blood flow to the brain.
Confirming the notion that beets are one of the best vegan foods for memory is the 2016 study from The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.
In this study, adults who were around 65 years old saw a boost in brain function after 6 weeks of exercising and drinking beetroot juice. Their brain networks were similar to those of younger people in the study. (7)
While we’ll need more research to see just how good beets are for our brains, the current evidence looks very promising.
#10 – Olive Oil
A Mediterranean diet is often regarded as one of the healthiest diets out there, including for brain health. Olive oil, which is extracted from olives, is a great source of health-boosting polyphenols. A 2016 clinical trial suggested that these polyphenols help fight neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. (8)
#11 – Avocados
Avocados – they’re mighty, delicious, and very popular. A quick Google search for ‘avocado toast recipe’ can keep you busy for days. They contain a high amount of fiber, vitamins C, K, B, along with minerals like potassium. All of these nutrients are essential for your cognitive health. Furthermore, healthy fats in avocados support healthy blood flow to both your heart and brain by loosening blood vessels.
#12 – Red Wine
Believe it or not, but that red wine nightcap does more than just relax you. It may also support your brain health. A 2014 study found that natural flavonoids found in grapes, such as resveratrol, improved memory performance after 26 weeks of consistent supplementation. Compared to the placebo group which saw no improvements. (9)
That said, the relationship between alcohol and brain function is very complex and also depends on many factors, such as your total alcohol intake. In other words, moderation is key.
Conclusion on 12 Best Vegan Foods for Memory
Hopefully, this article showed you that you don’t need to sacrifice taste to have better health & more brainpower.
Don’t forget that in addition to a balanced diet, exercise, as well, keeps your brain sharp and performing at its peak.
Along with that, aim to get 7-9 hours of good sleep per night, which will help to naturally increase neurogenesis in your brain and improve how your process information day in and day out.