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WORK-LIFE BALANCE

7 Foods That Boost Your Brainpower
 

Making big decisions for your company? Add these foods to your regular diet to keep your mind sharp.

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Most entrepreneurs are accustomed to long days and hectic schedules. But if you want to make smart decisions for your company, what you put in your body matters almost as much as how many hours you put in at the office.
Here are seven foods you should add to your regular diet if you want to keep firing on all cylinders. These foods may not make you smarter, but they'll help you stay sharp and think clearly--especially when you've been glued to your desk for 12 hours.

1. Salmon. This is one of the best brain foods out there. Salmon is rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids that have been shown to enhance memory and cognition. Plus, Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's. Shoot for three servings of wild Alaskan salmon a week.
 
2. Flax. This plant-based source of Omega 3 is perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Not only does flax improve brain function, but it helps reduce inflammation and improve circulation. Flax also helps lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar, making it a great supplement to include in any diet. Sprinkle a tablespoon of ground flax seeds to oatmeal or add a tablespoon of flax oil to smoothies or salad dressings.

3. Blueberries. These berries contain flavonoids--antioxidants that have been shown to help improve your ability to learn and enhance motor skills. Flavonoids also help prevent degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Add a cup to your morning oatmeal or to a smoothie. Or simply keep them on hand for a quick and healthy afternoon snack.

4. Nuts and seeds. This perfect afternoon snack is a good source of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids, which improve brain function. Plus, nuts contain vitamin E, which has been shown to help protect the brain from free-radical damage. Walnuts are best for brainpower. Cashews and sunflower seeds contain an amino acid that helps boost serotonin levels and alleviate stress.

5. Eggs. Eggs are a great source of choline, a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps you concentrate and recall information. Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's have depleted amounts of this important neurotransmitter.

6. Dark green leafy vegetables. Kale, chard, spinach, and other dark green vegetables contain B-vitamins, including folic acid, which help shield 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.

7. Chocolate. This treat is rich in flavanol antioxidants that increase blood flow to the brain, helping to protect brain cells. But the percentage of cacao is important--the darker the chocolate, the better. Enjoy a small square of dark chocolate after lunch for an afternoon boost.

IMAGE: urbanworkbench/Flickr, simplybike/Flickr
Last updated: May 20, 2013

BARBARA MENDEZ is a nutritionist in New York City. For more information about her private practice, visit BarbaraMendezNutrition.com.




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