Did you know that foods with certain colors could increase alertness, combat memory loss, improve brain function, and even fight off diseases that affect the brain? It's true. So chew and sip your way smart and healthy with these brain-friendly foods and beverages...
Go for the Green!
Research continually shows that green tea and green tea extract improve cognitive learning, relax the brain, and increase mental alertness. That's partially due to the fact that green tea is loaded with antioxidants that help oxygen circulate. If sipping hot murky tea from a mug doesn't do it for you, try Lipton Green Tea To Go -- it comes in Cherry Blossom, Mandarin & Mango, and Honey & Lemon, as well as (new flavors alert!) Pink Lemonade, Blueberry Pomegranate, Raspberry Lime, and Citrus. Those fruity drink mix packets have 0 calories per serving and contain plenty of antioxidants. Dark-green leafy vegetables are another brain-happy food. The iron in them improves concentration, mental sharpness and cognitive development. And FYI, iron is absorbed best when paired with foods rich in vitamin C (like tomatoes and citrus fruits). So get your Popeye on with HG's tasty "My Big Fat Greek Pita" -- that pocket (which is packed with spinach, tomatoes, and other yummy things) has 205 calories, 1g fat, and 12g fiber (POINTS® value 3*), and it delivers about 20% the daily value of iron! Or whip up our latest spinach sensation, HG's Spinach, Mushroom and Mozzarella Supreme -- a serving of that rockin' casserole has 106 calories, 1g fat, and 3.5g fiber (POINTS® value 2*) -- and then go eat an orange!
Better Off Red!
Tomatoes are key for brain health. The lycopene in 'em protects against free radical damage to cells, which can lead to Alzheimers and other diseases that affect the brain. And scientists say that more lycopene can be absorbed from cooked or processed tomatoes than from raw ones. So keep a few cans of Hunt's Fire Roasted Tomatoes on hand for your chewing pleasure, and whip up recipes like our Spinach, Tomato, Feta 'n Egg Wrap Attack -- that Starbucks b-fast swap has 168 calories, 5.5g fat, and 15g fiber (POINTS® value 3*). Red wine and red grapes are also potential powerhouses for the brain. They contain a compound called resveratrol that can keep brain disease at bay. The compound stops plaque from forming on the brain, which can lead to dementia if not prevented. Studies suggest that this stuff could also protect you in the event of a stroke or other brain injury. And since wine is a way better choice than many calorie-heavy cocktails (a medium glass of it has around 120 calories and a POINTS® value of 2*), go on and indulge every now and then (if you're 21 or over, of course!). Or just keep a bunch of red grapes in the fridge...
Foods with a purple hue could be especially beneficial for the brain. Phytochemicals found in purple produce might actually stave off memory loss. Anthocyanins, the stuff behind the purple-ish pigment in berries, cherries, eggplant, and more, have been shown to improve learning ability, memory, and coordination skills in certain studies. So fill your fridge with all the blue-ish/red foods you can find. Then whip up HG's No Harm Eggplant Parm (1 serving = 170 calories, 2.5g fat, 13g fiber -- POINTS® value 3*) and Layered Berry Custard Crostata (1 serving = 124 calories, 1.5g fat, 3.5g fiber -- POINTS® value 2*). Go on, purple it up!
Brown may not be the prettiest color in the crayon box, but think about it -- one of the most beloved edibles ever is brown... CHOCOLATE! And as it turns out, it's a head-healthy food! Compounds in chocolate react with receptors in the brain, which can actually dull pain and ease your mind. These compounds can also increase alertness in the brain. One of our favorite chocolate sources has got to be a Triple Chocolate Chunk VitaTop (100 calories, 1.5g fat, 5g fiber -- POINTS® value 1*)... IT ROCKS!!! As for another brain food, whole grains like brown rice are essential for maintaining concentration throughout the day and improving memory. That's because they contain the perfect mix of carbs and fiber to fuel your brain while keeping you full (so hunger isn't a distraction). We recommend sushi rolls made with brown rice as well as Gardenburger Veggie Burgers. GB's Original, Sun-Dried Tomato Basil, Portabella, and Black Bean Chipotle ones are our favorites -- those are all made with brown rice, and each one has only 80 - 100 calories, 2.5 - 3.5g fat and 5g fiber (POINTS® value 1*). Yippee!
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*The Points® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the Points® registered trademark.