Just like the other organs in your body, the brain thrives on certain nutrients that increase its function on a completely natural level. And no, nutrients from common energy drinks don’t count.

A diet rich in nuts, seeds, certain varieties of fish, whole grains, fruits and even avocados have has found to aid cognitive performance, and may even reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. What these “smart foods” have in common is a generous serving of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, which are important for healthy blood flow and cardiovascular function. When your heart is healthier, it can pump blood to your brain more efficiently.

When building your healthy diet, be sure to include:

  1. Wild salmon is abundant in Omega-3s and contains a larger amount of healthy oils than most fish. Other good choices include sardines and herring.
  2. Blueberries help prevent oxidative stress on the brain, and also may correspond to an increased learning capacity.
  3. Nuts and seeds are high in vitamin E, another source of brain fuel that may decrease cognitive decline that comes with age. The fat in nuts also helps raise good HDL cholesterol.
  4. Avocados pack a surprisingly large amount of good monounsaturated fat, similar to Omega-3 acids, that helps increase healthy blood flow.
  5. Home-brewed tea contains generous amounts of antioxidants, which help strengthen the heart. As opposed to a cup of coffee, which can contain nearly 200 mg of caffeine, tea contains a much lower amount that can increase focus and memory.

When the mid-day energy crisis strikes, try to avoid reaching for your third cup of coffee and instead grab a snack full of brain healthy treats.

This health tip is provided by UCF Pegasus Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice.