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The 11 Best Foods for Your Brain

Brain Food #1: Beets

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Nosh on this root vegetable to boost brain power. Scientists at Wake Forest University determined that natural nitrates in beets can increase blood flow to the brain, thereby improving mental performance. The tastiest way to eat beets? Roasted and then drizzled with honey dressing like this easy-to-make healthy side dish.

Brain Food #2: Sage

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You really are what you eat! A study published in Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior found that young adults who took sage-oil extract (50 micro liters) before cognitive tests performed better than those given a placebo. Sage contains compounds that prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. Use this herb in dishes like this low calorie recipe.

Brain Food #3: Grass-Fed Beef

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A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with healthy iron levels performed better on mental tasks and completed them faster than those with poor iron status. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body and to the brain. To enjoy beef with a clear conscience, splurge on healthier grass-fed cuts and follow these healthy eating tips.

Brain Food #4: Sardines

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Want to excel in the boardroom? Pack a sardine sandwich for lunch! This sustainable swimmer is packed with EPA and DHA, supercharged omega-3 fatty acids that bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus. See more ways increasing your intake of fish oil can change your body for the better.

Brain Food #5: Eggs

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Eggs, more specifically the yolks, are a leading source of choline. Choline is a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in helping you remember things like where you left the car keys. Eating protein-rich foods like eggs for breakfast can improve overall cognitive performance, according to Swiss researchers. Add these quick and easy egg recipes to your morning routine.

Brain Food #6: Yerba Mate

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Brew up a mug of yerba mate to beat the afternoon slump. Brazilian scientists found that yerba mate, herbal tea gleaned from a South American plant, can enhance short-term brain power. This is likely due to stimulants like caffeine. See the latest science on the surprising up—and downsides of caffeine.

Brain Food #7: Oats

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The primary fuel for your brain is glucose, which comes from carbohydrates such as those abundant in oats. Since your body breaks down the carbs in whole-grain oats very slowly, they help keep you sharp for several hours. Plus, with tasty new breakfast recipes like these, you'll never get bored with a bowl of oatmeal again!

Brain Food #8: Lentils

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Adding lentils to salads and soups should be a no brainer. This legume is brimming with folate, a B vitamin shown to help boost brain power. Folate also plays a role in decreasing levels of amino acids that can impair brain functioning. So it's no secret why lentils made this list of the 12 best powerfoods for women!

Brain Food #9: Ground Flaxseed

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Flax is the best source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information like touch and taste. To meet your daily quota, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flaxseed on salads or mix it into a smoothie. Try this tasty blueberry-flaxseed shake recipe from lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls Nicole Scherzinger.

Brain Food #10: Walnuts

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When crunch time comes along, pop a handful of walnuts. Scientists at Tufts University in Boston found that a diet rich in walnuts may improve mental performance. A synergy between the specific type of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids in this nut might be at work here to boost brain power. See four other nuts that made our list of the five healthiest nuts for women.

Brain Food #11: Spinach and Other Vegetables

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Harvard Medical School researchers found that women who ate the most vegetables—especially green leafy vegetables (spinach and romaine lettuce) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower)—experienced a slower rate of cognitive decline than women who ate the least vegetables. Spice up boring sides with these 5 new ways to cook vegetables.