Having a tough time getting your brain to function in the morning? Your breakfast might be to blame. Sure, devouring a doughnut is a quick and easy fix when you're in a rush, but it's bound to leave your brain in an unfocused fog. However, eating the right foods may help boost your brainpower.
From improved memory to better concentration, these brain-friendly breakfasts are packed with ingredients to help you start the day with a sharp mind.
1. Eggs Benedict on Avocado “English Muffins”
Say what you want about eggs, they're an excellent source of choline. Choline is an essential nutrient necessary to make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for memory, as well as other brain functions, according to the National Institutes of Health. In fact, eating eggs is associated with improved cognitive performance, a January 2017 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found.
Try this keto-friendly recipe that swaps bread with avocado for added healthy fats and fewer carbs.
2. Avocado Smoothie Bowl With Almonds and Mint
An avocado a day keeps the brain fog away. That's because avocados contain powerful antioxidants including lutein, which is linked to better cognition. In an August 2017 study published in Nutrients, participants who ate an avocado a day for six months showed improvements in memory, sustained attention and efficient problem-solving.
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 packed with crunchy almonds and bananas for added creaminess.
3. 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.
In fact, dining on salmon has been linked to protecting against neurodegenerative diseases and cognition loss brought on by dangerous free radicals, according to a March 2014 review in Nutrients.
4. Coconut Pomegranate Smoothie
Adding pomegranate juice to your morning routine may help keep your mind sharp. Not your average drink, pomegranate juice has triple the antioxidant potency of red wine and green tea, says a February 2009 article in Nutrition Reviews. In fact, just one cup a day has shown promising benefits for your brain. Older adults who enjoyed a daily glass of pomegranate juice showed improved visual and verbal memory, according to a July 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
This sweet and tart smoothie combines pomegranates with omega-3 rich hemp hearts for twice the brain-boosting power.
5. Middle Eastern 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. In an April 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, older adults who followed the Mediterranean diet were observed to have better overall cognitive function compared to those who didn't. Plus, people who ate a Mediterranean-style diet also showed lower risks for cognitive impairment in later life.
6. Almond and Yogurt Cereal
When it comes to foods that protect your brain, almonds are all-stars. That's because they contain 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. Due to its antioxidant effects, vitamin E is associated with protecting your brain against neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, a December 2014 review published in Nutrients showed that vitamin E may promote healthy brain function and has been linked to slowing cognitive decline.
Since one ounce of almonds offers 34 percent of your daily value of vitamin E, you'd be nutty not to sprinkle a handful of brain-boosting almonds on your morning cup of yogurt.
7. 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. ICYMI, these little blue marvels have a serious health benefits including improved brain function.
Indeed, drinking blueberry juice is tied to better memory and decreased symptoms of depression, as reported in an April 2010 study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. (However, note that the study is preliminary and that blueberries shouldn't replace medication for depression.) Plus, eating more blueberries (and strawberries), which are rich in flavonoids, is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline in aging women, 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.
8. Teff Breakfast Bowl
If you need a brain boost, 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. Matter of fact, drinking beet juice has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain in older adults, according to a January 2011 study published in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry. Why is that important? Well, when areas in the brain that don't receive enough blood flow, it may cause dementia and poor cognition.
Between the beets and pomegranates in this breakfast bowl, you might have enough brainpower to perform feats of mental gymnastics at work or school.
- 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"