Hey, listen! You probably didn’t think carbs could boost brain health, did you? But it’s true. In fact, your brain and body NEED carbohydrates to function. (Fun fact: 20% of the body’s carb supply is in the brain.)
Along with being a starchy staple, certain carbohydrates are super for healthy brain function. Excluding the refined *bad ones*, like white bread, muffins, and cakes, there are a wealth of carbs that are not only packed with fibre – they’re also superb for cranking up the dial on that cranium.
Pfft… and you thought it was just oily fish that benefited your brain!
Take a look at the best complex carbs for brain health below to get that noggin feeling tip-top.
Wholegrains preserve the germ and the bran of grains, which refined varieties do not. Preserving these essential elements not only delivers heaps of fibre, but also maintains the B vitamins in the grain – and it is these helpful vitamins that contribute to reduced inflammation in the brain.
Best wholegrains for brain health: wholegrain bread, wholewheat pasta, quinoa, porridge/oatmeal, millet, bulgur wheat.
As with wholegrains, legumes are full with fibre, yes, but they also have another ‘f’: folic acid. Folic acid has been proven to improve cognitive performance and there have been studies to suggest it even wards off brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Best legumes for brain health: lentils, split peas, kidney beans, chickpeas and garbanzo beans.
3. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are replete with antioxidants (vital for reducing inflammation in the body and brain), as well as vitamins. Namely, vitamin A and C. The former is essential for general brain and eye health and the latter has been shown to have protective effects against memory loss.
TOP TIP – The deeper the shade of sweet potato, the better the brain boost.
Best sweet potatoes for brain health: purple sweet potatoes, jewel sweet potatoes, heirloom sweet potatoes.
To all the naysayers out there, yes, fruit is a carb! But we all know they’re frequently very high in sugar, which the brain can only tolerate in small doses. That’s why berries are often considered the best fruit for brain health as they have a low glycemic index (meaning sugar transfer to the blood slowly and doesn’t spike insulin. More info here), are rich in antioxidants, and boost learning and memory.
TOP TIP – The darker the berry, the richer the benefits.
Best berries for brain health: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants.
Following the nightshade theme, we finish with one of my personal favourites. Beetroots boast a banquet of health benefits, including mounds of manganese, folate, potassium and iron. But one of its most upstanding advantages is that it binds with the blood, improving blood flow to the brain and lowering blood pressure in the rest of the body.
Best beetroots for brain health: Boltardy beetroots, Chiogga beetroots, Globe 2 beetroots.