Got a big exam coming up? A trivia contest? Or do you just want start protecting yourself from the gradual changes in cognition and memory that can come with old age? Whatever reason you have for looking into them, we're happy to offer you ten foods that can improve your brain function!

Note that a few of these items, including cocoa, nuts, and seeds, are prohibited on phase 2 and 3 of the 123Diet. Others, including fatty fish and avocado, are acceptable only on Phase 3.

1. Cocoa

Cocoa is high in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which seem to accumulate in brain regions involved in memory and learning. It also contains the stimulant theobromine and even a little caffeine to boost your alertness. However, you should try to choose cocoa powder or super-dark chocolate to avoid the perils of too much sugar!One study showed that people who ate more chocolate performed better on several memory and reasoning tests. Others have suggested that chocolate can prevent the usual detrimental effects sleep deprivation has on memory and cognition, improve visual sensitivity, enhance memory formation, and protect against other imposed memory deficits.

2. Berries

Berries are a good source of many kinds of antioxidants, like anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, quercetin, kaempferol and tannin. They have thus been found to protect against neurodegenerative diseases by reducing damage associated with free radicals and oxidative stress.Animal studies indicate that high berry intake may even have potential to reverse age-related cognitive decline. So far, blueberry supplementation has been found to improve memory in older adults and greater berry intake has been associated with lower rates of cognitive decline in older women.

3. Nuts

Did you know that nuts may be able to keep you from going nuts? One study directly associated higher nut intake with lower rates of cognitive decline, and nuts may also lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases that could ultimately affect brain health.

Nuts also tend to be high in vitamin E, which has been associated with better cognitive performance in elderly subjects. Plus, walnuts have been found to have the highest polyphenol levels among nuts and to contain brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acid while peanunts contain anti-aging resveratol, so these two might be the best of the bunch!

4. Coffee

The caffeine in coffee increase our alertness by blocking the action of a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which normally makes us sleepy. This has been found to lead to improved performance on both simple and complex cognitive tasks and to improve our brain's processing capacity.

The high antioxidant content in coffee means it also may be useful for warding off longer-term cognitive decline. If coffee makes you too jittery or anxious, you can get a lot of the same benefits from a lower-caffeine cup of tea. Just try not to drink either too close to bedtime!

5. Leafy Greens

Consuming one cup of leafy greens per day has been associated with slower rates of cognitive decline, even after various other factors were controlled for. In fact, the greens eaters ended up having cognitive profiles similar to those of non greens-eaters who were 11 years younger!

This may be due to the high amount of various critical nutrients these foods contain, like vitamin K , lutein, beta-carotene, nitrate, folate, kaempferol, and alpha-tocopherol. The glucosinalates in leafy greens are also being investigated for their potential role in preventing and treating neurodegenerative diseases.

6. Eggs

Egg yolks are packed with choline, a little known nutrient that most Americans don't get enough of and that had been associated with better cognitive performance.

One study also found that higher egg intake was associated with better performance on neuro-psychological tests assessing executive function. Eggs are also high in B vitamins like folate and Vitamin B12 that have been found to slow cognitive decline.

7. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are our best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with better blood flow to the brain and various other markers of brain health. Meanwhile, lower levels have been linked to depression and dementia.

The omega-3 that we get from fatty fish is also easier for our bodies to use than the kind that can get from plant food. Good picks include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna.

8. Seeds

Pumpkin, flax, hemp, and chia seeds are good vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acid, and most boost a bunch of other useful micro-nutrients to boot. For example, pumpkin seeds are especially rich in zinc while sunflower seeds are high in critical Vitamin E.

Sesame seeds are also a good source of the amino acid tyrosine, which your body uses to make dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can boost brainpower and alertness.

9. Avocado

The healthy unsaturated fats in avocados may help keep our brain's cell membranes flexible, thus improving our nerves ability to carry information. They can also help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins and provide us with potassium, which can help lower our blood pressure and improve our blood flow, including blood flow to the brain!

Avocados also are high in a variety of other brain and heart-healthy nutrients like folate and vitamins B, C, and E.

10. Oranges

Just one medium orange will provide you with all the Vitamin C you need in a day, which is no small matter. Adequate Vitamin C levels have been found to help prevent age-related cognitive decline, while deficiency has been associated with impaired brain development.

The natural sugar found in oranges may also ensure that more glucose is available for your brain after you eat one, so you may want to grab one right before the big test!

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