Here we have a list of 20 best brain food for vegetarians. These foods have all been shown to promote brain health in one way or another; be it by improving mood, reducing inflammation, or boosting neuron to neuron signaling. Follow along and watch out for the numbers 6 & 8!
You don’t have to know much about nutrition to be able to tell that walnuts are good for your brain. Just by looking at the shape of a walnut, you’ll quickly notice how similar it looks to the brain.
And according to studies, the nutrients in walnuts truly are good for our brain health. Protecting neurons from damage and age-related decline. Walnuts have plenty of vitamin E in addition to omega-3 fatty acids, which are building blocks for your brain cells. (1, 2)
This makes walnuts not just one of the healthiest brain food for vegetarians, but also in general.
2. Flax Seeds
What makes flax seeds fall among the best brain food for vegetarians? Primarily their high ALA content. By ALA I mean alpha-linoleic acid, which is an omega-3 type of fatty acid that your body converts to EPA and DHA. (7)
DHA is a type of omega-3 fat that makes up a big chunk of your brain. It is directly linked to memory, mood, and other cognitive functions. Therefore, getting enough DHA ensures that your brain stays healthy and well-functioning, and is even shown to ward off cognitive decline.
Eggs, nature’s multivitamin. In full sense of the word. They contain almost all the nutrients that your body and brain need. Except for vitamin C.
Particularly important are choline and B vitamins, which are found in eggs and are important for brain function. Your brain uses choline as fuel to repair neurons and maintain good memory & cognitive function. (8)
An egg a day will also improve your mental clarity and clear that brain fog since it promotes the release of ATP which fuels your brain cells.
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. One cup of kale will provide you with (9):
- 206% of daily vitamin A requirement
- 684% vitamin K
- 134% vitamin C
Plus, kale is a good source of magnesium. This is a mineral that helps your brain produce serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitters. Plenty of antioxidants can also be found in kale – these protect your neurons from oxidative stress and damage linked to aging.
Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits for your brain. They contain anthocyanins and other natural antioxidants that promote a healthy and youthful brain.
It’s known that antioxidants in blueberries build up in your brain over time when you eat them. In the brain, these antioxidants help to boost memory by protecting brain cells and improving blood flow.
A study with elderly people showed that those who ate blueberries scored better on memory tests than the non-blueberry-eating group. (10)
The best of all is, blueberries aren’t loaded with sugar nor do they have a high glycemic index. Because of this, and thanks to their many benefits, blueberries are most definitely one of the best brain food for vegetarians.
- Increases the BDNF – Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor is a protein that stimulates nerve growth. It helps you learn new things more easily and promotes healthy cognition.
- Boosts serotonin and dopamine – Brain chemicals that are critical for your mental well being.
- Reduces inflammation – Turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory remedies out there, it’s on par with some arthritis medication in fact.
- Reduces brain fog – Helps your brain cells send signals to each other more efficiently.
- Protects the brain – Aids in preventing cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. (11)
Drinking turmeric with milk or simply sprinkling it on your food is a good way to reap its nutritional goodness.
I just drank a cup of delicious kefir before writing this. Kefir is an amazing probiotic drink that improves your gut health and supports the immune system. Your gut and brain are closely connected via the vagus nerve. Also, most of your serotonin is made in the intestines, which means that your gut health directly influences your mood. (12)
8. Green Tea
Green tea helps with many, many things. From weight loss to brain health, it’s truly one of the healthiest beverages you can drink. Among the antioxidants it contains are catechins – these are small molecules that promote fat loss and help your brain stay focused. If you don’t drink caffeine on a regular, you’ll notice that green tea will give you that natural rush of euphoria. So you get cognitive & mood benefits from green tea… while having a faster metabolism. Can it get any better than that? (13)
Avocado contains healthy fats that are essential for pretty much every area of our health. We need fat to make vital hormones like testosterone & estrogen, have a healthy immune system, and maintain a good memory. Avocados also promote healthy blood flow to the brain, helping to supply it with vital nutrients and oxygen. (14)
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a great source of MCTs. Also known as medium-chain triglycerides, these are a quick and efficient fuel source for your brain. Just make sure to take extra virgin coconut oil. Anything other than that is typically poor in nutrients due to high-heat processing. 1-3 tablespoons of coconut oil throughout the day is a good dosage. (15)
Almonds have vitamin E. Plenty of it in fact. This is a potent brain protector that wards off cognitive decline and improves your memory. In fact, one study showed that vitamin E might protect against Alzheimer’s Disease. (3)
12. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is quite good at boosting mood and alleviating the blues. You know that feeling when you take a bite of dark chocolate? It turns out that the brain releases endorphins & dopamine when you eat chocolate – which are known to promote feelings of euphoria. (16)
But wait, there’s more! Thanks to its antioxidants, dark chocolate is shown to boost memory and cognitive performance. It also contains some caffeine which improves your alertness and focus.
Celery brain benefits – are there any? Most definitely. Celery promotes blood flow to the hippocampus, an area of the brain that regulates your memory, mood, and many other mental functions. A 2018 study found that celery reduces inflammation in the brain and boosts neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to change and rewire itself. (4)
What’s more, celery contains luteolin, a type of antioxidant that binds to your GABA receptors in the brain – resulting in feelings of calm and relaxation.
Once upon a time, honey was revered as a sacred food thanks to its healing properties.
Not only is honey packed full of nutrient goodness, but it also doesn’t raise your insulin levels like table sugar. Even diabetics can eat honey. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that promote heart health.
To add to that, honey also helps your brain absorb tryptophan, which results in higher serotonin levels – helping you feel better and fall asleep faster. Honey is also known to promote memory and blood flow to the brain, thanks to its polyphenols. (17)
Many of us look forward to drinking coffee in the morning. There’s something to that first cup that’s hard to describe. Just smelling the coffee can get you alert and awake. And when you drink it, caffeine binds to your adenosine receptors in the brain, helping you stay sharp, focused, and energetic. Caffeine can also ward off cognitive decline and boost mood by raising dopamine levels. (18)
Broccoli is a good source of vitamin K. This nutrient is needed by your brain to form sphingolipids – fatty acids that encase your neuron membranes. According to research, people that get more vitamin K have better cognitive function than people whose diets lack this essential nutrient. (19)
17. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit for the brain, am I for real? Well, let’s just look at what the studies say about dry fruit like apricots: in addition to protecting brain cell integrity, they also have antioxidants like vitamin A which are essential for maintaining optimal brain health and plasticity. Dry fruit might not be on par with fish for example, but they’re definitely something to consider if you’re a vegetarian looking for a healthy sweet treat! (5)
Bananas contain two nutrients that are beneficial for the brain: tryptophan and potassium. While tryptophan helps with the production of the mood-boosting serotonin, potassium helps relax nerves and mind from stress. Potassium is also heavily used by your adrenal glands – this is important because healthy adrenals support a balanced mood and cognitive wellbeing.
19. Red Grapes
Skins of red grapes have resveratrol. Shown to increase lifespan in animals, resveratrol is a potent oxidative stress fighter, helping with cognition and brain blood supply. Research suggests that eating grapes can boost your memory, attention span, and brain’s energy efficiency. (6)
Oats benefit your brain health in a few ways. Mainly, they provide the brain with magnesium and B vitamins which are important for memory and other mental functions. Additionally, oats contain fiber that is shown to reduce cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health, and promote healthy oxygen supply to the brain.
Conclusion on Best Brain Food For Vegetarians
So that was our extensive list of best brain food for vegetarians.
If you’re a vegetarian, incorporating some of these foods into your daily meal plan can support your mental state, including mood, cognition, and memory. Some of these foods are even shown to fight cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
I’m curious, are there any surprises on this list for you? Do you think I missed a particular vegetarian food that’s good for the brain? Join me in the comments below.