8 Incredible BRAIN-BOOSTING Foods That Also Fight Diabetes
Having a healthy brain is essential for productivity, memory, and overall health. But whether you've noticed it or not, your brain capacities can be impacted by diabetes. From headaches, blurry vision, fatigue, and a higher risk of strokes imbalanced glucose levels can take a toll on your brain. But did you know that glucose is the main source of energy for your brain? So, when your blood sugar is too low, or too high, it can leave you feeling foggy, dizzy, shaky, or even exhausted.
Erratic glucose levels can also trigger unhealthy food cravings within your brain. So how can you ensure that your most powerful muscle stays healthy?
Which foods help boost your brain health without triggering a blood sugar spike? And what mysterious nutrients should you seek out to improve your memory, your concentration, and your glucose control? Don't go anywhere, we re about to open your mind to 8 incredible foods that can supercharge your brain! We'll also share the best ways to utilize these foods for keeping your blood sugar balanced.
Are those tiny trees really as good for your health as your parents claimed? You bet! Broccoli is packed with beneficial minerals, dietary fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
This brain-shaped green wonder is one of the best cruciferous vegetables to add to your diet. Broccoli is rich in SULFORAPHANE, an antioxidant compound which can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. That means it can keep neurons and cells protected from toxins. In a recent Chinese study, researchers observed that sulforaphane helps fight against cognitive symptoms linked to brain degeneration, and it can lower the risk of strokes. Along with sulforaphane, the vitamin K found in broccoli can also be beneficial for the brain.
Vitamin K offers anti-inflammatory effects as well as protection against oxidative stress to the brain. This is especially important because high glucose levels can trigger inflammation throughout the body, thus increasing the risk of diabetes complications. However, studies show that broccoli isn't just beneficial for brain health, it can help regulate blood glucose as well.
A recent clinical trial revealed that type 2 diabetic participants who consumed broccoli daily for 4 weeks significantly improved their insulin sensitivity. The fiber content found in broccoli can help slow the post-meal glucose release.
Plus, did you know that one serving of broccoli contains approximately DOUBLE the amount of vitamin C as an orange? Regular vitamin C consumption has also been shown to lower fasting glucose levels. Meanwhile, broccoli is loaded with other diabetes-fighting nutrients, like folate and potassium. So get this green veggie onto your plate for brain-boosting, glucose-lowering benefits.
Are eggs high in cholesterol? Yes. But can they still be a healthy and brain-boosting option for diabetics? Absolutely! Sure, one egg can contain about 186 milligrams of cholesterol, they mainly supply heart-healthy HDL cholesterol.
In fact, multiple studies show that regular egg consumption can actually work to lower harmful LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels. Eggs are packed with protein, vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other powerful nutrients, including Folate and choline. Just one egg contains 147 mg of choline, which equals to 25% of the daily recommended intake. Choline is an essential nutrient, which, one consumed, is converted by the brain into ACETYLCHOLINE, a neurotransmitter which helps brain cells communicate with each other. In a recent study, researchers linked a high choline intake with an increase in memory and cognitive performance.
Scientists have also noted that choline may potentially mitigate the degeneration of neuron cells and boost overall mental health. And while eggs offer promising results when it comes to brain health, they also provide a deep well of nutrients that can help balance blood sugar. Many studies have noted that the combination of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, along with the Folate and protein content found in eggs can...
...improve insulin sensitivity, decrease vitamin deficiency, and benefit cognitive functions. So, despite the misconception that eggs will clog your arteries, they can be a solid option when it comes to boosting your brain, and keeping your blood sugar balanced.
However, you can still have too much of a good thing. Even though they can help your heart-health, you won't want to over-eat them, as consuming large quantities of their dietary cholesterol can still bring adverse effects.
That's why most doctors recommend eating no more than one egg per day. If you're currently managing diabetes, it's best to stick with just 4 to 6 eggs per week.
With its pungent taste, and popular detoxifying benefits, turmeric is a diabetic-friendly spice that can be quite beneficial for your brain. Turmeric contains CURCUMIN, a very strong antioxidant which can reduce diabetes-related inflammation, and it has the ability to stimulate the action of other antioxidants. A review published by the National Library of Medicine found that turmeric can help regulate and even prevent certain types of inflammation caused by diabetes. And research suggests that curcumin has the power to reduce diabetic neuropathic pain by inhibiting certain pro-inflammatory proteins. The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin and turmeric in general has also been shown increase brain function and neuron activity while reducing the risk of inflammatory brain disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
In fact, it's been reported that turmeric has the ability to raise levels of dopamine and serotonin, chemical neurotransmitters released in the brain which increase feelings of happiness while subduing feelings of anxiety and depression.
Plus, multiple studies have shown that the curcumin within turmeric can improve the health of those suffering from erratic glucose levels by... .
..stimulating insulin production, increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering total cholesterol, and reducing the production of glucose in the liver. But beyond curcumin, turmeric contains other diabetes-fighting, brain-boosting nutrients. In fact, turmeric is an excellent source of the fat-soluble bioactive compound AROMATIC-TURMERONE.
A study 2014 animal study found that lab rats injected with aromatic-turmerone had an 80% increase in neural stem cells and newly-formed brain cells. Studies have also found that turmeric s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce cancerous oxidative stress and heart disease risk for diabetics. So turmeric's anti-inflammatory effects can bring positive health results for both your blood sugar and your brain.
4. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate isn't just a treat for your soul, it's also a potent brain-boosting delight.
Dark chocolate contains FLAVONOLS, antioxidants which can provide a multitude of health benefits. In fact, studies show that they have the ability to... .
..improve digestion, reduce arterial inflammation, decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer, enhance blood sugar balance, and boost brain activity. A recent study observed that participants who ate dark chocolate regularly experienced an increase in performance of serious mental tasks, memory, and overall cognitive function.
And, of course, when it comes to chocolate, you've probably felt its brainpower first hand as a natural mood booster.
Plus, thanks to their polyphenolic flavonols, regular consumption of small amounts of dark chocolate has been shown to reduce both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels while increasing levels of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol. Studies also suggest that dark chocolate has the ability to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. Incredibly, dark chocolate can also be a healthy dessert option for diabetics. A study involving type-2 diabetic participants noted that eating one square of dark chocolate daily helped reduce lipids, including triglycerides and cholesterol, and it aided glucose control. So, does that mean you can safely enjoy dark chocolate as a diabetic?
Yes! But it's best to limit your daily consumption to a square or two, and choose dark chocolate that is 70% rich in cocoa or higher.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds may be tiny, but they are rich in a variety of beneficial nutrients. They are an excellent source of protein, mono and polyunsaturated fats. And while a one ounce serving can contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates, it also supplies over 5 grams of fiber, which can work to control post-meal glucose levels.
But the true nutritional power of pumpkin seeds lies in their assortment of minerals, including... ..
.copper, zinc, iron, and magnesium. A one ounce serving can provide approximately 14% of your daily recommended intake for zinc, and 37% of your daily recommended intake for magnesium. Including these minerals in your diet can aid blood sugar regulation, reduce the risk of diabetes complication, and improve cognitive functions. In fact, mineral deficiencies of zinc or magnesium can increase your chances of developing diabetes.
And being deficient in these two minerals may increase brain-related symptoms, such as headaches, brain fog, and depression.
A recent study showed that some participants who took 300 grams of magnesium daily recovered from depression within 1 week. Another study observed similar results with zinc, noting that supplementation of this mineral improved central nervous system health. Plus, zinc is crucial for brain health, as the hippocampus, the section of the brain associated with memory, contains high levels of zinc. And, importantly, especially for older adults managing diabetes, studies show that zinc supplementation may reduce the progression of Alzheimer s disease.
Plus, pumpkin seeds contain other beneficial nutrients which can aid diabetes control and brain health. They are rich in antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation. They contain TRYPTOPHAN, an amino acid which can improve sleep. And their omega-3 fatty acid content can work to lower triglycerides. In fact, a recent study found that participants who consumed a mixture of flax, sesame, and pumpkin seeds daily for 12 weeks experienced a 30% reduction in serum triglycerides.
And, thanks to their dense mineral content, research shows that pumpkin seeds can also work to... ..
.improve eye health, aid weight loss, strengthen the immune system, and reduce fasting glucose levels. So go ahead, boost your memory, your blood sugar balance, and your heart health by including pumpkin seeds in your regular diet. Just be aware that pumpkin seeds are high in calories, so you will want to watch your portions.
Blueberries have been categorized by the American Diabetes Association as a superfood, and it's easy to see why. Multiple studies show that blueberries contain brain-boosting and blood sugar-balancing benefits. Low in calories but loaded with nutrients, blueberries are an excellent source of manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Research shows that vitamin C can increase blood antioxidant levels, reduce systolic blood pressure, boost immunity, and may even have a protective effect on memory. Plus, blueberries contain many anti-inflammatory compounds, including QUERCETIN and ANTHOCYANINS.
These two components are part of the flavonoids family, an antioxidant group that has been shown to boost brain function. In fact, it's been reported that blueberries contain possibly the highest concentration of antioxidants among all plant-based foods. A recent Canadian trial revealed that participants who consumed 230 grams of blueberries daily for 12 weeks had significant improvement in cognitive function and blood flow to the brain. Plus, a study published by Oxford Academic found that drinking two blueberry smoothies daily can improve insulin sensitivity and inflammatory markers in those suffering from obesity. So, can you enjoy blueberries safely as a diabetic and target your inflammation?
Absolutely! Just be aware that blueberries contain possibly the highest amount of carbohydrates of all berries.
But, thanks to their respectable amount of dietary fiber, they shouldn't trigger a steep blood sugar rise, especially if you pair them with good sources of protein and other fiber-rich foods.
7. Fatty Fish
That's right, many doctors and nutritionists consider one of the best brain foods on the planet to be fish, specifically omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish species, including.
salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines. Fatty fish are a rich source of vitamin D and those heart-health, brain-powering monounsaturated omega-3 fats. Were you aware that your brain is comprised of about 60% fat? The human brain actually uses omega-3 fatty acids to regenerate brain and nerve cells.
So it's no wonder that a recent study concluded that supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids can boost brain performance and overall brain function.
Incredibly, multiple observational studies have shown that those who eat more fish experience slower rates of mental decline. And other studies suggest that those who eat at least a serving of fish weekly have more functional tissue, also known as gray matter, in areas of the brain responsible for memory and emotion. Additionally, it s been shown that fatty fish can improve vision and sleep quality, both of which can often be affected by diabetes. Fatty fish may also help balance blood glucose, thanks to their vitamin D supply. A recent review noted that regular vitamin D intake can lower blood glucose and the risk of diabetes complications for type 2 diabetics.
Plus, the healthy fat and vitamin content within fatty fish has been shown to improve heart health. In fact, a recent study involving over 40,000 American men revealed that participants who consumed one or more servings of fish per week decreased their risk of heart disease by 15%.
So, one or two servings of fatty fish per week can help to lower your fasting glucose and your risk of heart disease while boosting your brain health. But if fatty fish, including those tiny sardines, can offer such a huge benefit for your brain, what food could possibly take today s gold meal? Well, get a load of.
By now you may know that nuts have been highly touted as one of the best foods for your heart health. But they are also renowned as a supercharger for your brain!
And, let s face it, walnuts LOOK like brains! Coincidence? We think not. Walnuts contain ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that has shown to improve cognitive performance while slowing age-related cognitive decline.
In fact, a 2015 UCLA study noted that adults who consumed a quarter cup of walnuts daily had higher cognitive abilities than those who did not eat walnuts.
But, beyond walnuts, you can find a well of nutrition within a wide variety of nuts, including pistachios, pecans, cashews, almonds, and many more! Most all varieties of nuts are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and monounsaturated fatty acids. In fact, a serving of mixed nuts can give you approximately 16% of the daily recommended intake for magnesium, 26% of the recommended daily intake for manganese, and upwards of 56% of the recommended daily intake for selenium. Nuts are also a great source for vitamin E, which has been shown to lower the risk of neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease.
And you shouldn't be surprised to learn that regularly consuming nuts has been shown to fight free radical damage, decrease LDL cholesterol levels, lower triglycerides, and lessen inflammation.
Multiple studies have revealed that almonds and pistachios both have the ability to aid weight loss. In fact, a recent study involving overweight women found that participants who regularly ate almonds lost 3 times as much weight as participants who ate no almonds. A separate study found that participants who regularly ate almonds for 3 months experienced reduced post-meal blood sugar as well as decreased fasting glucose levels. Other research has linked regular nut consumption with decreased diabetes symptoms and increased insulin sensitivity. In general, nuts can be high in calories and carb content.
However, they are also loaded with dietary fiber. For example, a one ounce serving of walnuts can supply about 185 calories, with approximately 4 grams of carbohydrates. But it will also give you nearly 2 grams of fiber, which lowers the net carb content to just 2 grams.
A serving of walnuts also contains over 4 grams of protein. So thanks to their healthy amount of protein and fiber, nuts can actually help fill you up, slow your digestion, and aid your glucose control.
So a small portion of nuts can go a long way, providing you with brain-boosting and blood balancing benefits. And there you have it. These 8 brain-boosting, diabetes-fighting foods can easily be added throughout your diet. But which one surprised you the most? Share your thoughts with our community in the comment section below.