Research into the relationship between diet and cognitive health is an ongoing field. Scientists and researchers are continuously investigating the potential impact various foods and dietary patterns have on brain function and cognitive well-being.
As with any field, exciting finds lead to trends. Trends in the dietary and food industries are typically types of foods and specific supplements. Some trends are more publicly visible than others–cognitive health related to dark chocolate–but why? What leads some foods to be featured as beneficial to cognitive function? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular (and recent) cognitive health food & dietary trends.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fatty acids have been extensively studied for their potential benefits to cognitive health.
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries, are rich in antioxidants and compounds that may have neuroprotective effects. Berries are specifically known for their high levels of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, as well as various phytonutrients like flavonoids and anthocyanins. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and reduce cellular damage, which are associated with cognitive decline.
collard greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may support brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Kale contains dietary fiber, which supports gut health. Emerging research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome can influence brain health through the gut-brain axis.
Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein, which help provide a steady supply of energy to the brain. Legumes have exhibited beneficial properties related to antioxidants, blood sugar, carbohydrate content, and fiber content.
Avocado is a source of healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, both of which have been associated with brain health. Avocado research is still going strong, with many popular fields of research including:
- Blood sugar regulation
- Monosaturated fat content (another field in its own right)
- Antioxidant properties
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Micronutrient synergy
Dark chocolate is rich in compounds called flavonoids, which have been studied for their potential positive effects on cognitive health. Flavonoids are a type of polyphenol, a group of naturally occurring plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Varieties with higher cocoa content (70% or higher) and minimal added sugars seem to be the most beneficial. Like any type of candy, however, dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation and requires a balanced diet to show any beneficial effects.
Importance of a Balanced Diet
While many of the dietary trends listed above provide potential cognitive benefits, they are just one aspect of a holistic approach to cognitive well-being. Incorporating any type of new food into a balanced diet also requires regular physical activity, adequate sleep, cognitive engagement, stress management, and other healthy lifestyle practices to reach its full potential. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is advised before any major dietary shifts.
Research at Biofortis
Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health throughout the world by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.Tags: cognition, diet, health, nutrition