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Brain Food: How Eating Well Impacts Your Brain

We all know the impact eating well has on our bodies, but what about our minds? Eating well means more than just feeding your stomach, but feeding your head too. That’s why we partnered with our friends at Panera to learn more about what eating well can mean for cognitive health.

When it comes to brain food, there are lot of palatable options for mental superpowers. For instance, did you know that what’s good for the heart, is also good for the head? Because blood flow is so important to brain function. Black beans, for example, are one such food that’s great for your heart. In fact, researchers studying diabetes found that “incorporation of legumes as part of a low-GI diet improved both glycemic control and reduced calculated chronic heart disease.”  And at 120 milligrams per cup, black beans are a great source of magnesium which research has shown is effective in staving off “dementias in the brain.” Avocados specifically are another great way to get the blood flowing. According to research conducted at Penn State, the good fats in avocados have been linked to reduced levels of LDL, aka ‘bad cholesterol.’ They even found that incorporating good avocado fats might be even more beneficial than simply cutting fats out altogether.

While heart health is an essential part of cognitive wellness, there are other foods that are specifically good for the old noggin. One study found that delicious blueberries improved memory function in older adults with early memory decline. Broccoli is another great brain food due to its high levels of choline, a chemical found in the brain shown in laboratory studies to be essential in early brain development, as well as positive effects for older individuals who might be at risk for general memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

As for foods best taken in moderation, be wary of salty snacks and sauces, which have been shown to increase hypertension which restricts blood flow to the brain. Soy sauce, for instance, contains up to forty percent of your recommended daily sodium intake in a single tablespoon. Some sodium in the diet is totally fine, but eating too many sodium-packed foods can impair focus, organizational skills, and memory. When available go for the low-sodium option to keep your mind sharp. Another red flag to watch out for is actually tuna fish, which has been known to contain high levels of mercury, a heavy metal linked to cognitive decline. The American Heart Association recommends no more than two servings of this fatty fish a week, and as long as you stay within their guidelines your brain will thank you. Remember, salt and fish can be delish, but it’s important to enjoy them in moderation.

Eating well is always a smart idea. Panera Bread is committed to serving your family delicious food, without unnecessary artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors and colors from artificial sources. Through its Preservatives with Purpose campaign, Panera commits to keep artificial preservatives out of your food and to use them for good instead.

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