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Here’s something to think about when planning your meals: A boost in brain power may be as close by as the kitchen.
On TODAY Wednesday, nutrition expert Joy Bauer offered a day’s worth of edible ideas touted as beneficial for memory. They also appear in Woman’s Day magazine.
Breakfast: Sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder on oatmeal
“We all know that chocolate contains these flavonols, and flavonols help to increase activity in the areas of the brain that are best known for memory and for cognitive function,” Bauer says.
You get the same amount of flavonols in 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa as in 1 ounce of dark chocolate. The best part: The powder has only 15 calories to the chocolate’s 150.
In Woman's Day, Bauer cites a study that found that people who had a daily drink high in cocoa powder did better on a memory test than those who had a lower-cocoa version of the beverage.
Late morning: A second cup of coffee
There's a lot of research supporting coffee's health benefits.
"It shows that the combination between the caffeine and the antioxidants actually helps to wake you up in the short term, but also boost brain power long-term.”
If you get jittery from java or have medical problems that forbid coffee drinking, skip this tip.
And what about decaf? You still get the antioxidants, so there’s some benefit.
Lunch: Think out of the box with berries
“They have anthocyanins, which are great antioxidants that have been shown to boost brain power and memory,” Bauer says. Try adding them to a salad with goat cheese and a light vinaigrette. “However you can get them in, get them in.”
Women who ate at least a cup of berries a week had a delay in mental decline when compared to women who didn’t eat blueberries and strawberries weekly, according to Woman's Day.
Mid-afternoon pick-me-up: Greek yogurt and chia seeds
“This is for the 3 p.m. slump,” Bauer says. “You want to have a Greek yogurt because protein helps to wake us up, and then also sprinkle on a little bit of chia seeds because this is a great source of plant-based omega-3 fats.” Omega 3s help neurons communicate more effectively.
Dinner: Eat your greens
“Whether it’s spinach or kale or Swiss chard or collard greens, these contain basically a multivitamin in food,” Bauer says. “Get them in whenever you can because your brain is going to thank you.”
Lisa A. Flam, a regular contributor to TODAY.com, is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter.