Making good decisions requires feeding your brain well. Your brain is the most expensive real estate in your body, requiring the most resources. Although only 2% of your body weight, your brain uses 20% – 30% of the calories you consume. We think so much about healthy eating for our bodies, but what about healthy food for our brains? Try this blueberry brain smoothie to fuel your brain and start your day right.
Blueberry Brain Smoothie
I got to know famous brain doctor Dr. Daniel Amen while working with The Daniel Plan team. Dr. Amen is a New York Times best-selling author and co-creator of The Daniel Plan. He is also the founder of Amen Clinics, along with his wife Tana. Thousands of people have benefited from their fantastic work, including me. “Eating right is critical to thinking right”, says Dr. Amen. The better the fuel, the better we are able to make smart decisions. And so I created this blueberry brain smoothie.
Dr. Amen discovered that as weight goes up, our ability to think and reason goes down. If that doesn’t motivate us to eat healthy I don’t know what will. For a list of Dr. Amen’s brain healthy foods, check out The Daniel Plan Good Foods List (all foods with a + sign) and the list of best brain foods from his website.
Healthy Brain Foods
Smarter food choices means healthier brains, so here’s a partial list of good foods to include in your diet. And another post to read is Good Foods for a Good Mood.
- Berries – Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, acai berries, and pomegranates seeds are all good. Research shows that blueberries in particular help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Berries are antioxidant powerhouses.
- Avocado – Full of healthy omega 3 fats to improve mood and lessen anxiety, plus vitamin E, another important antioxidant.
- Salmon – Excellent source of brain-healthy omega 3 fats. So are other lean proteins like eggs (omega-3 enriched), skinless chicken and organic soybeans (organic only or you risk buying genetically modified soy).
- Vegetables – Leafy greens like spinach and kale are filled with antioxidants like vitamin C and plant compounds called carotenoids, powerful brain protectors which slow mental decline due to aging. Also asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage.
- Bananas – Full of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that play a supporting a role in keeping brains functioning at optimal levels. They also contain high levels of tryptophan, which converts into serotonin. Bananas are happy mood food.
- Spices -They do more than add taste
- Cinnamon – Helps boost attention, focus, and regulate blood sugar
- Turmeric – Found in curry powder, with the active ingredient curcumin, a powerful inflammation fighter
- Saffron – Can have anti-depressant effects and improves memory
- Herbs – Potent brain protectors
- Oregano, garlic and rosemary all increase blood flow to the brain
- Almonds – Including almond milk and butter. A good source of healthy fat and vitamin E, which may help reduce cognitive decline as we age. Almonds also contain brain nutrients riboflavin and L-carnitine, that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Walnuts and Brazil nuts are good too.
- Cocoa powder – Be sure to buy unsweetened. Full of beneficial plant compounds called flavinoids, which may help lower blood pressure, support healthy cholesterol, improve regulation of blood sugar and brain function. Also a good source of antioxidants, iron and magnesium.
The Beautiful Blueberry Brain Smoothie
Get your day started right with my new smoothie recipe based on some of the wonderful brain-healthy ingredients above. One more note – as our brains are about 80% water, be sure to drink plenty of fresh, clean water each day. Aim for about half of your body weight in ounces.
For More Reading
- Ten Ways to Conquer Your Cravings (for a healthy brain), by Dr. Daniel Amen
- Brain Healthy Spices list from Dr. Amen
Blueberry Brain Smoothie | The Best Brain Foods
- 10 ounces almond milk
- 3/4 cup blueberries or blackberries
- 1 big handful baby spinach leaves
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 banana
- 2 scoops protein powder of choice about 20 grams protein
- Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.