Most of us have long days and hectic schedules. But if you want to be productive for your marathon workdays, what you put in your body matters more than how many hours you put in at work.
Here are some foods you should add to your diet if you want to keep firing on all cylinders. These foods may not make you smarter, but they’ll help you stay sharp, think more clearly, increase your energy and productivity. This is especially true if you’re glued to your desk for eight to 12 hours a day.
- Chickpeas are the ultimate food for brain function, because they combine protein to keep you alert along with complex carbohydrates. Since carbs are digested slowly they give you a sustained energy release that keeps you energized and focused.
- Green tea is a beverage that contains the perfect combination of L-theanine, which is an amino acid shown to improve concentration, focus and has a small kick of caffeine. So it’s the ideal drink if you need to concentrate, but don’t want the jitters and crash from a cup of coffee.
- Salmon is one of the best brain foods out there. Salmon is rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have been shown to enhance memory and cognition. Omega-3’s also have anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
- Flax is a plant-based Omega-3 and they are ideal for vegetarians and vegans. Not only does flax improve brain function, but it helps reduce inflammation and improves circulation. Flax also lowers cholesterol and balances blood sugar. Add flax seeds to oatmeal or add flax oil to smoothies and salad dressings.
- Blueberries contain flavonoids that are antioxidants and have been shown to help improve your ability to learn and enhance motor skills. Flavonoids also help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Nuts and seeds are a perfect afternoon snack and a good source of more Omega-3’s and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, which improve brain function. Plus, nuts contain vitamin E, which help protect the brain. Walnuts are best for brainpower. Cashews and sunflower seeds contain amino acids that help boost serotonin levels and alleviate stress.
- Eggs are a great source of choline, a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This helps you concentrate and recall information. Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s lack this important neurotransmitter.
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard, spinach and other dark green veggies contain B-vitamins, including folic acid, which help protect your brain from the effects of aging. These veggies are also loaded in antioxidants that help protect against heart disease and cancer. Eat dark greens daily in salads or as a side dish.
- Dark chocolate is rich in flavonol antioxidants that increase blood flow to the brain. The percentage of cacao is important, because the darker the chocolate, the better. Enjoy a small square of dark chocolate for an afternoon boost and a little treat.
If any of these aren’t on hand, then at the very least avoid anything with lots of simple sugars such as cookies, candy, soda, fruit juice and sports drinks. These deliver a big sugar rush that will give you short-lived energy followed by the typical sugar crash.
Are there any additional super-foods that you can add to this list or include in your own diets?