Sure, devouring a pastry might be easy when you're in a rush, but it may leave your brain in an unfocused fog, especially if you do it regularly. Eating a breakfast rich in nutrients that support your brain is one way to ensure you can stay focused and energized during your busy day to day.
It's important to remember that focus and concentration are cognitive functions, so they rely on your overall brain health. To support long-term healthy cognitive functioning, it's best to eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients that support brain health.
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With that in mind, we rounded up breakfast recipes made with key ingredients that support a sharp mind so you can start your day on the right note.
1. Nut Butter Overnight Oats
Not only is this recipe simple to add to your weekday breakfast menu, it has two ingredients that are full of nutrients good for your brain, namely nuts and oats.
Nuts are loaded with healthy, unsaturated fats which are linked to healthy brain function, per the Cleveland Clinic. Plus, oats are rich in fiber, and a diet low in fiber is linked to impaired brain function, per November 2021 research in the journal Microbiome.
Get the Nut Butter Overnight Oats recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
2. Eggs Benedict on Avocado Muffins
Eggs are an excellent source of choline, a nutrient used to make acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter for memory, as well as other brain functions, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In fact, eating eggs is associated with improved cognitive performance, according to a January 2017 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Try this keto-friendly recipe that swaps bread with avocado for added healthy fats and fewer carbs.
Get the Eggs Benedict on Avocado Muffins recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Berry White Bean Smoothie
This deliciously refreshing smoothie will keep you full thanks to a secret ingredient you won't even notice in the recipe — white beans.
White beans offer plant-based protein as well as fiber to this smoothie, which has even more fiber thanks to the berries. Fiber, as we mentioned, is considered an important nutrient for brain health and cognitive function.
The berries also offer antioxidants, which help protect brain cells from free-radical damage.
Get the Berry White Bean Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Nutriciously.
4. Avocado Smoothie Bowl
An avocado a day keeps the brain fog away. That's because avocados are full of powerful antioxidants including lutein, which is linked to better cognition.
People who ate an avocado a day for six months showed improvements in memory, sustained attention and efficient problem-solving, according to an August 2017 study in Nutrients.
So, if you have a big test or an important work presentation coming up, it would behoove you to add an avocado to your breakfast bowl. This a.m. meal comes with crunchy almonds and bananas for added creaminess.
Get the Avocado Smoothie Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Baked Egg Muffins
If you're typically in a rush in the morning, these baked egg cups are for you. They're not made with wheat, so they're not high in carbs, but they do offer you choline, healthy fat and protein thanks to the eggs, as well as other nutrients depending on the veggies you choose to add.
For a real brain-supporting meal, pair these egg muffins with a slice of whole grain toast with nut butter.
Get the Baked Egg Muffin recipe and nutrition info at Nutriciously.
6. Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast
This recipe offers a double dose of brain boosters. While antioxidant-rich avocado amps up your attention and focus, the omega-3 fatty acids in smoked salmon have anti-inflammatory effects that may support healthy brain cells and protect them from deteriorating, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Salmon also gives you some vitamin D, which has brain-protecting effects, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Get creative and season your salmon avo toast with "everything" seasoning, or any other spices you like.
Get the Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Peanut Butter Bliss Balls
This is another recipe for those who are typically in a rush in the morning or who might otherwise forego breakfast. If you're trying to keep things light but want to better support your brain in the morning, reach for a few of chocolatey bites.
You'll get brain-supporting healthy fats from the peanut butter, and oats add fiber. Cocoa powder and sweet dates add a yummy flavor and up the fiber and antioxidants in this recipe. Overall, they're a great choice to start the day.
Get the Peanut Butter Bliss Balls recipe and nutrition info at Nutriciously.
8. Coconut Pomegranate Smoothie
Adding pomegranate juice to your morning routine might be one way to support a sharp mind. Pomegranate juice actually has triple the antioxidant potency of red wine and green tea, according to a February 2009 article in Nutrition Reviews.
To get the benefits, you may want to have about one cup per day of pomegranate juice for brain health benefits. Older adults who enjoyed a daily glass of pomegranate juice showed improved visual and verbal memory, in a July 2013 study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
This sweet and tart smoothie combines pomegranates with omega-3-rich hemp hearts for twice the brain support.
Get the Coconut Pomegranate Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
9. Mediterranean-Inspired Savory Yogurt Jar
Bolster your breakfast and your brain with beans. Plant-based foods like legumes are the cornerstones of the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with a lower risk for memory difficulties among older adults.
Older adults who followed the Mediterranean diet were observed to have better overall mental function compared to those who didn't, per the results in the April 2017 issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Those eating a Mediterranean-style diet also showed lower risks for cognitive impairment later in life.
Bonus: The brain-supporting garbanzo beans in this recipe also contain B vitamins, which are particularly important for healthy brain function, a February 2017 study in Nutrients says.
Get the Mediterranean Savory Yogurt Jar recipe and nutrition info here.
10. Almond and Yogurt Cereal
When it comes to foods that protect your brain, almonds are all-stars. That's because they have loads of free-radical fighting vitamin E, an antioxidant that shields cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
Your brain is super susceptible to oxidative stress, especially as you age. As an antioxidant, vitamin E is associated with protecting your brain against neurodegenerative diseases.
Vitamin E may promote healthy brain function and has been linked to slowing cognitive decline, according to a December 2014 review in Nutrients.
Since one ounce of almonds offers 34 percent of your daily value of vitamin E, you can feel good about sprinkling a handful of almonds on your morning cup of yogurt.
Get the Almond and Yogurt Cereal recipe and nutrition info here.
11. Red, White and Blue Parfait
This parfait is the perfect way to jumpstart your brain in the morning. The dynamic duo of antioxidant-abundant almonds and blueberries makes this recipe the ideal brain food.
Eating more blueberries (and strawberries), which are rich in flavonoids, was associated with slower rates of cognitive decline, according to an April 2012 study in the Annals of Neurology.
This creamy parfait pairs protein-packed cottage cheese with blueberries and strawberries for the perfect morning treat.
Get the Red, White and Blue Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.
12. Teff Breakfast Bowl
If you want to support your brain, you can't beat the benefits of beets. These root vegetables are rich in nitrates, which can help open blood vessels. That can be especially good for your brain as you age.
Drinking beet juice has actually been shown to increase blood flow to the brain in older adults, according to a January 2011 study in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry.
That's important because when areas in the brain don't receive enough blood flow, they can become damaged, which then leads to cognitive decline.
Get the Teff Breakfast Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.
- National Institutes of Health: “Choline: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals”
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Association of Dietary Cholesterol and Egg Intakes With the Risk of Incident Dementia or Alzheimer Disease: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study”
- European Journal of Nutrition: “Association Between Food and Nutrient Intakes and Cognitive Capacity in a Group of Institutionalized Elderly People”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Do Omega-3s Protect Your Thinking Skills?”
- Nutrients: “Neuroprotective Properties of the Marine Carotenoid Astaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Perspectives for the Natural Combination of Both in Krill Oil.”
- Nutrition Reviews: “Pomegranate Juice: a Heart-healthy Fruit Juice”
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Pomegranate Juice Augments Memory and fMRI Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Mild Memory Complaints”
- Nutrients: “B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review”
- Nutrients: “Effects of Vitamin E on Cognitive Performance during Ageing and in Alzheimer’s Disease”
- National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin E: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals”
- Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry: “Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults”
- Annals of Neurology: “Dietary Intakes of Berries and Flavonoids in Relation to Cognitive Decline”
- Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry: “Acute Effect of a High Nitrate Diet on Brain Perfusion in Older Adults”
- Nutrients: "Avocado Consumption Increases Macular Pigment Density in Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial"
- Microbioime: A fiber-deprived diet causes cognitive impairment and hippocampal microglia-mediated synaptic loss through the gut microbiota and metabolites