Foods to Increase Cognitive Functioning

foods to increase cognitive functioning


     If you are reading this article, you are most likely looking to change limiting beliefs and negative mental programming in order to achieve your goals and dreams and live your best life possible. Congratulations! As a certified clinical nutritionist and YLU coach, there are some foods that I recommend to increase cognitive functioning due to their biochemical properties, that is, their vitamins and minerals. While you are participating in this program, it may be beneficial to include some of these foods onto your plate to facilitate the changes taking place at the physiological level (i.e. cognitive functioning and processing). Many of these foods you may already incorporate into your diet. Some you may not have heard of or tried before. These are just suggestions, not meant to be regimented in any way. Have fun and get creative with meal planning and express gratitude for the abundance of food we have available to nourish our bodies and minds. Enjoy!

Now for the technical stuff:

     Vitamin B6, a water-soluble vitamin also known as pyridoxine, has been shown to increase cognitive functioning and processing. The best food sources of this vitamin include: red and green hot chili peppers, raw red and green bell peppers, Casaba melon, Pacific cod, cooked spinach, raw garlic, bananas and cooked wild Coho salmon.

     Choline is an essential nutrient and is considered part of the B vitamin complex. It has also been shown to increase overall cognitive functioning. The best source for choline are egg yolks and whole eggs. If eggs aren’t your thing, some ‘support food sources’ include: cooked (with dry heat) cod, canned shrimp, cooked Brussels sprouts, broccoli and artichokes.

     Folate is another great addition to your plate and is not just for pregnant women or nursing mothers! Folate is interesting in that folic acid in supplement form is twice as potent and beneficial than folate from foods. Meaning you would need to eat 800 mcg of folate from food sources a day or take 400 mcg of folic acid in supplement form as a preventative for chronic diseases. The ‘super food sources’ of folate are cooked asparagus and spinach. Other great food sources include:  raw Chayote squash, black eyed peas, cooked collard greens, raw spinach, cooked turnip greens, cooked broccoli, raw Wakame seaweed, raw mustard greens and cooked lentils and mung beans.  (Other B vitamins, Biotin* and Vitamin C also need to be consumed in order to best absorb folate and folic acid).

     Boron is a mineral that has also been shown to increase cognitive functioning. The best sources of Boron come from carrots, soybeans, raisins, dried peaches, avocados and red kidney beans. That sounds to me like an interesting and colorful salad!

     As with most vitamins and minerals, absorption and utilization are decreased with over-consumption of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and the stress hormone cortisol. It is best to consume alcohol and caffeine in moderation and to avoid all nicotine products. Taking steps to minimize stressors in your life – meditation is very effective here – will also help on all levels and increase the feel good chemicals in your brain, while maximizing nutritional benefits. How cool is that?!

(*Super food sources of Biotin include raw mushrooms and whole eggs. Great food sources include: hazelnuts, almonds, raw tomatoes, cooked Swiss chard, whole wheat bread and raw carrots.)

(Information gathered from The Power of Nutrient Dense Food: How to Feel Great, Lose Weight and Prevent Disease by Patti Weller, CCN)