10 Best Plant-Based Foods to Optimise Brain Health
10 minute read
Our brains use up around 20% of the calories we get from our food, so it’s important to pay attention to where those calories come from. By being mindful of your diet you can help your brain to thrive, not just survive and enjoy better focus, concentration, mood and energy levels!
What's the Connection Between Nutrition and Brain Health?
It’s incredible just how powerful dietary changes can be to support brain health and function. Eating foods rich in brain-boosting nutrients can help to alleviate common problems such as brain fog, lack of concentration, sleeplessness and even anxiety and depression.
These are things which many of us either accept and put up with as the norm, or else seek out supplements and medications to help resolve. Truth is, by nourishing your mind just as you do your body you can help tackle the root cause of these issues and solve them for good.
The Best Vegan Foods for Brain Health
Prepare to embrace better sleep, increased energy, improved focus, better cognitive performance and much more – all thanks to natural brain enhancing foods. Here’s our top 10 pick of the best brain-boosting vegan foods:
1. Dark Chocolate 🍫
Cacao beans are packed with flavonoids, antioxidants and, surprisingly, caffeine. Studies have found that this trinity of powerful nutrients can help to enhance learning, boost mood, improve memory and even slow down age-related cognitive decline.
A few squares of dark chocolate each day will help to give your brain a boost between meals – not to mention your taste buds! Aim for between 70-90% cocoa solids, the higher the cocoa content the better.
You’ll also find cacao in our Coco Dream blend. The blend utilises raw Pervuvian cacao alongside equally brain-beneficial Reishi mushroom (more on mushrooms coming up) for a double brain beneficial impact!
2. Green Tea 🌱
Studies have shown that caffeine found in green tea helps to improve concentration, increase focus and lift mood. The complementary antioxidant L-Theanine also found in green tea helps to reduce anxiety and induce calm, preventing the jitters many of us get with excess caffeine!
Green tea is also rich in plant-based polyphenols and antioxidants, which are neuroprotective and help to prevent neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
Japanese matcha green tea is the star ingredient in our Magic Matcha blend, together with dual-extracted Lion’s Mane mushroom it makes for perfect brain-enhancing cuppa so you can stay focused throughout your busy day.
3. Coffee ☕
Joining cacao on the stage for brain-boosting beans is coffee! Coffee is a powerhouse of nutrients that can support your mind every day. This includes Vitamin B2, Magnesium and those powerful plant-based Polyphenols we mentioned earlier.
Research has found that long-term coffee consumption can slow down age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of stroke. More immediate benefits which can be experienced with every sip include improved mood, elevated concentration and higher alertness.
4. Berries 🍓
Berries are an incredibly potent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are perhaps the most important nutrient when it comes to nurturing your brain. They work to fight off free radicals and prevent oxidation, protecting brain cells and DNA at a cellular level.
Studies have shown that consuming berries can help to improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation in the brain and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
If you struggle to add berries to your daily routine then you can easily get your daily dose with our Berry Beauty blend, which packs in the goodness of six brain boosting berries with every scoop - simply mix with water to enjoy.
5. Leafy Green Vegetables 🥬
Greens are a plentiful source of B Vitamins, which are essential for energy utilisation, DNA synthesis and neurochemical signalling in the brain.
Just one serving of leafy greens per day can help to slow the natural impact of ageing on the brain. In fact, one study found that lovers of leafy greens had a cognitive age the equivalent of 11 years younger compared with participants with a low intake of greens– amazing!
Many of us don't manage to meet that one serving per day. So, a convenient and reliable way to get more of your daily greens is to supplement your diet with a greens powder like our Clean Greens, a blend of 8 superfoods to help you meet your daily recommended intake in one easy scoop.
6. Mushrooms 🍄
Two antioxidants found in mushrooms, ergothioneine and glutathione, have amazing neuroprotective properties and have been linked with reducing the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease. Just two servings of mushrooms per week could be all it takes to reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment, which is often the root cause of these conditions.
Mushrooms are also rich in B Vitamins which are needed for almost every function in the brain, especially energy utilisation. Mushrooms promotes oxygen circulation throughout the brain and body to help you feel more alert, focused and energised.
Our Shroom Coffee and Ground Mushroom Coffee combine two of the most effective brain enhancing nutrients which feature in our top ten – mushrooms and coffee – for twice the benefit in every sip. Elevate your cuppa today to easily enjoy the benefits of functional mushrooms.
7. Micro-algae 🌿
One of the most important nutrients for brain health is Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). This is a type of Omega-3 essential fatty acid (alongside ALA and EPA) and it’s what makes up around 60% of the human brain.
Getting enough Omega-3 from food is one way you can consistently replenish your brain’s stores of DHA. It also helps to promote neuroplasticity – how the brain grows and reorganises its neuronal networks. DHA supplementation has been shown to increase cell growth and repair in the brain.
The best source of plant-based DHA is in fact microalgae, which is found naturally in the ocean and provides a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Microalgae is most commonly found in a concentrated powder like Spirulina or in supplement form, so is easily added to your daily routine.
8. Pumpkin Seeds 🍈
You’ll find heaps of brain-friendly antioxidants in pumpkin seeds, but what makes them especially good for our mental health is the spectrum of minerals they provide. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of essential minerals including zinc, copper, iron and magnesium.
Minerals are essential to brain health and getting enough of these minerals has been shown to boost memory, improve cognition and even prevent mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Pumpkin seeds are incredibly nutrient dense, which means a little goes a long way! Sprinkle on top of meals or enjoy as a snack to reap their amazing benefits. You’ll also find pumpkin seed protein in our Muscle Protein blend, alongside six other amazing superfoods (and nothing else!)
9. Nuts 🥜
Like seeds, nuts pack a whole bunch of nutrients into a tiny package! They’re a great source of plant-based protein and healthy fats – both of which are essential for normal brain function.
Most nuts are also rich in antioxidants and Vitamin E (an antioxidant vitamin), which are renowned for their neuroprotective and memory-enhancing properties. One study which focused on women found that those who ate nuts frequently over several years experienced a multitude of brain-enhancing benefits, including a sharper memory and better overall cognitive performance.
Walnuts are a great choice of nuts for vegans and vegetarians looking to boost their brain health, as they’re high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are hard to come by with a plant-based diet. You can also make our superfood shakes with nut milk instead of water for a double dose of brain boosting nutrients!
10. Water (yes, water!) 💧
Water makes up 75% of our brain mass – so it’s so important to stay hydrated to keep your brain in check.
Brain cells rely on water to function. Studies have shown that dehydration inhibits brain cell function and could lead to reduced attention, memory and concentration.
One of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to support daily brain function is to drink more water. Opt for filtered water and invest in a BPA-free reusable bottle.
Eat Smart, Daily! Being mindful of what you eat everyday is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to look after your brain.
Energy Consumption of the Brain - https://time.com/5400025/does-thinking-burn-calories/
Dark Chocolate and Learning Capacity - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23810791/
The Effect of Chocolate on Mood - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27642035/
Chocolate Intake Associated with Reduced Risk of Cognitive Decline - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26873453/
L-Theanine in Green Tea Reduces Anxiety and Induces Calm - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924224499000448
Polyphenols and Cognitive Decline - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352873718300544
Coffee Reduces the Risk of Age-Related Cognitive Decline - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26677204/
Free Radicals Cause Memory Loss Associated with Alzheimers - https://www.alzheimers.net/antioxidants-lend-themselves-to-brain-health
Berries Improve Cognitive Function - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4192974/
Greens Essential for Fatty Acid Formation in the Brain - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648721/
One Serving of Greens Per Day Reduces the Impact of Ageing on the Brain - https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/leafy-greens-linked
Those Who Eat Greens Have a Lower Cognitive Age - https://www.brainandlife.org/articles/leafy-greens-are-good-for-the-brain/
Antioxidant Activity of Mushrooms - https://news.psu.edu/story/491477/2017/11/09/research/mushrooms-are-full-antioxidants-may-have-anti-aging-potential
Two Servings of Mushrooms Per Week to Reduce the Risk of Cognitive Impairment - https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2019/03/26/mushrooms-and-brain-health-new-research-finds-a-potential-link-worth-considering/
Lion's Mane Stimulates the Growth of Brain Cells - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
Nootropic Function of Lion's Mane - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924982/
Micro-algae DHA Promotes Neuroplasticity - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772061/
Micronutrients and Mental Health - https://www.mentalhealthexcellence.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Micronutrients-for-the-brainsept2012.pdf)
Nut Consumption Over Several Years Promotes Memory - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105147/
Effect of Hydration on the Brain - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6068860/