Big things come in small packages! Despite being small, and often times requiring laborious efforts for a small prize; nuts and seeds offer some very potent nutrition that have many brain boosting benefits. A staple of any diet, the gathering of nuts and seeds for consumption has been around since our hunter-gatherer days.
If following a strict diet, its important to not consume too many nuts or seeds as it can quickly pile on the total calories. When choosing nuts or seeds, those that are raw and unflavored tend to be of much better quality than others. Brain boosting nuts and seeds include: walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, flax seed, pumpkin seed, and sunflower seeds.
Walnuts are a powerhouse for the brain, they contain up to 20 percent protein, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids essential for healthy brain cell membranes, vitamin E and B6, and help maintain healthy levels of the calming neurotransmitter serotonin which influences our moods and appetite.
Almonds contain a potent brain ingredient called phenylalanine, an essential amino acid involved in the production of the mood stabilizing hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and are also a great source of riboflavin, iron, magnesium, and L-carnitine, which supports choline metabolism to improve memory by reducing neuronal degeneration. They also help reduce LDL, “bad” cholesterol while preserving the HDL “good” cholesterol.
Cashews contain over eighty nutrients and help increase oxygen flow to the brain. They are good sources of fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese as well as sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They also contain the essential amino acid tryptophan, which increases levels of serotonin,
Pecans have been shown to protect your brain against motor neuron degeneration. They are rich in vitamin E and a good source of choline. Pecans provide more than 19 minerals and vitamins including vitamin A, multiple B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Flax seeds are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids that help turn off the stress response to calm us down. Omega 3 deficiencies has been linked to postpartum depression, ADHD, Tourette syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome. They are a good source of fiber, folic acid, vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber and protein; they are a rich source of manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. A daily handful of pumpkin seeds is a good source of zinc, used in the brain’s hippocampus to enhance memory. Zinc is a critical element in human health but a common nutritional deficiency, especially among children.
Sunflower seeds are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids and contain several vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, vitamin C, B1, B3, B5, B6, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium. They also contain tryptophan, which helps the brain to produce the calming neurotransmitter serotonin.
Consume some or each of these as part of a balanced diet to ensure your brain is always firing on all cylinders!