The Foods That Increase Brain Power and Reduce Stress

Posted on: May 24th, 2017 in Mindset by Pat Mesiti | 2 Comments

Winter is almost here and I’m already feeling sluggish so I’ve decided to go on a health kick. I want to do more exercise and I also want to clean up my diet – cut down on unhealthy snacks. According to nutritionists there are foods that are not only good for your body, but also great for your mind. They won’t up your IQ by ten points, but a good diet will sharpen your thinking and make you feel better. Your brain will serve you better if you give it the right fuel. Foods like green leafy vegetables, berries and oily fish are traditional smart foods. Perhaps including some brain foods in your diet could make you more productive at work. According to research, these foods improve your memory, brain processing and also help you better deal with stresses. What smart foods should be on our menu?

Salmon and Tuna

According to the US Psychology Today’s website salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids. A lack of omega-3 fatty acids can result in tiredness, forgetfulness and moodiness. Our bodies can’t make these fatty acids. We only get them through eating the right foods, such as omega-3 rich eggs. This nutrient is crucial for good brain function. Salmon can improve alertness, reduce the risk of developing a degenerative mental disease (like dementia) and help reduce depression, anxiety and hyperactivity. Tuna is another source of Omega-3 and has the highest level of vitamin B6 of any food. B6 is linked to memory, cognition and long-term brain health. The B vitamins are crucial to levelling moods. B6 influences dopamine receptors. Dopamine and serotonin are happy hormones.


The American medical publisher, WebMD, claims that avocados improve blood supply and oxygen to the brain. This can improve critical-thinking skills. Avocados also have high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids that protect the brain’s nerve cells. The monounsaturated fat in avocados also help blood circulate but don’t forget that avocados are high in calories.


Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and tahini (sesame butter) contain protein, good fats, and vitamin E, as well as antioxidants and magnesium. Lots of minerals and vitamins that our brain loves!


These are full of Vitamin E, which has been found to reduce cognitive decline as we get older. A snack pack of almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, or Brazil nuts also has been shown to reduce moodiness. Walnuts are the super stars of nuts. They are full of protein, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.

Organic Apples

These contain catechins, a mineral that protects the brain from damaging chemicals common in everyday products. You must choose organic apples because catechins are in the apple’s skin and is exposed to pesticides when the apple is sprayed.


Oysters contain selenium, magnesium, protein and several nutrients good for brain health. Researchers have found that men who eat oysters have health cognition and are less likely to be moody!


This delicious caffeine-rich beverage gets a mixed report card when it comes to helping the brain. Caffeine tricks your brain. Caffeine is a brain stimulant. According to the Harvard Medical School, it also blocks receptors for a chemical called adenosine. With adenosine blocked, brain excitatory chemicals flow more quickly—giving you a surge of energy and improved mental performance. This also slows age-related brain decline. A US Journal of Nutrition paper found that people—particularly those who were ages 70 and over—who drank coffee scored better on tests of mental function, but not on memory tests or other measures of mental ability. Some studies have shown improved long-term memory performance and thinking but other studies have found no connection between coffee and long-term brain function improvement, still, coffee is definitely a short-term brain stimulant.


Dried beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas are not only inexpensive, but they are great for your body and brain. They are part carbohydrates and protein. Your body digests them slow, which stabilises body sugar levels and prevents tiredness. Everyone should eat ½ cup of legumes a day.

Green Leafy Vegetables and Broccoli

Green vegetables have high levels of iron which helps red blood cells do their job. These greens can give you lots of energy, meaning you’ll be more efficient in the office. Broccoli has Vitamin K and choline, which improves memory. Kale, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower act as anti-aging brain agents. Harvard Medical School studied more than 13,000 women and found that eating those veggies lowered brain age by one to two years.


Researchers have found that blueberries can reverse memory loss. A paper published in The Journal of Neuroscience reported that rats fed blueberries every day had a better short-term memory and learnt more quickly than rats which weren’t given blueberries. Blueberries are also high in fibre and low on the glycemic scale and they’re safe for diabetics because they do not raise blood sugar. Scientists also suspect they could reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s. All berries have antioxidants that improve memory and motor coordination, but blueberries are the king of the berries. Pomegranates do contain blueberry-like levels of antioxidants.

Dark Chocolate

Scientists have identified flavanol from the coco bean as a mineral that can improve your brain power. It boasts both memory and cognitive processing, but chocolate sends serotonin levels right up, meaning you’ll feel happy in short term, however could crash later.

Hot Peppers and Cayenne Pepper

These contain capsaicin, a fat fighter and pain reliever. Capsaicin also prompts the brain to release feel-good endorphins.

I hope this list has provided you with food for thought, but remember it is fine to have good intentions but how will you incorporate them into your life? If you want to improve your diet start by cutting down on treats and incorporating just a few of these brain power foods. If you go for a drastic change of diet, you are unlikely to stick with it in the long term. It is better to improve in small increments and stay with it long-term. Also watch your calorie intake. More than 60% of Australians are overweight, but remember just losing 1kg does your body good!


Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.


  1. Wayne says:

    Great Post Pat! I am already enjoying some of these but will certainly add the rest to my diet!

    Wayne ‘The Moose’

  2. Katy Ramminger says:

    Too true, I have atlantic salmon at least 3xweek.
    Live in an area of roadside avos for sale 😃.
    Nutrition plays a massive part of our well being that’s for sure!

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