This "Smart Foods" Checklist Spells Out Every Food You Need for a Healthy Brain

Amanda Montell
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Gather & Feast

Interest in nutrition as it relates to brain health, memory, and learning is on the rise. Refreshingly, in 2017, women are growing less concerned with the best foods for getting in "bikini" shape and more curious about the foods that will help keep us whip-smart in the long run.

According to Matt Kuchan, Ph.D., a discovery scientist and the global lead for Abbott’s partnership with the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory at the University of Illinois, there is one little-known ingredient that all the best brain foods contain. "The common thread through all of brain-healthy foods is that they all contain the nutrient compound called lutein [pronounced loo-teen]," he says. "In the past, lutein—a carotenoid or pigment found in many fruits and vegetables—was primarily known as a nutrient for good eye health. But new research shows that it may also play a strong role in developing and maintaining brain function and can enhance learning and memory at nearly every stage of life."

The new research he was referring to at Abbott suggests that a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin (a carotenoid very similar to lutein) encourages fast and efficient information processing, as well as boosts memory, in both young and older adults.

If staying brilliant your whole life appeals to you, Kuchan recommends working lutein-rich foods—such as egg yolks, leafy greens, brussels sprouts, okra, and colourful fruits—into your diet. (Lutein is also available as a supplement.)

Other brain-healthy ingredients to look for include vitamin E, omega-3s, and quercetin, an antioxidant found in many fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Check out the checklist below to learn exactly which brain foods to buy next time you hit up the grocery store!

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