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There is a wealth of information out there for those of us looking for healthy ways to keep our brains in shape – from warding off brain fog to using simple hacks to boost our memory and even physical exercise to help reduce the risk of dementia.
There are also many foods that can help support your brain health. To keep things simple, Dr. Deepak Chopra suggests eating the rainbow, which means adding foods with each of the seven colors that make up ROYGBIV to your meals.
“The best foods for your brain health are foods that have maximum diversity of plant-based foods, that are organic, that have seven colors of the rainbow,” said Chopra, who is currently director of wellness for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, tells CNBC Make It.
For example, regularly including apples, oranges, bananas, celery, blueberries, eggplant, and grapes in your diet will help you meet your color quota.
Colorful fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, “compounds that give plants their rich colors as well as their distinctive tastes and aromas,” according to Harvard Health Publishing.
When consumed, phytonutrients in plant-based foods may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, the Harvard blog states. Flavonoids, a group of phytonutrients found in colorful plant-based foods, have also been linked to improved brain health and reduced cognitive decline and dementia.
To get the most out of what you eat for your brain health, you need to focus on diversifying the foods on your plate that include the “six flavors of life,” says Chopra. These tips are based on Ayurvedic medicine.
“These foods contain the highest number of micronutrients, which are directly derived from energy from the sun,” Chopra explains.
“So when you follow a diet that has those seven colors of the rainbow and those six tastes that I mentioned, you are actually using the life force to enhance your well-being.”
The six tastes of life include: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. While you’re probably most familiar with sweet, sour, and bitter tastes, astringent is harder to identify.
Foods with an astringent taste “have drying and cooling qualities,” according to Healthline. Some of them include parsley, beans, turmeric, and vanilla.
Here are some nutritious foods with each of the six tastes:
- Strawberries (sweetened)
- Lemons (sour)
- Almonds (salted)
- Cranberries (bitter)
- Onions (spicy)
- Broccoli (astringent)
For an easy way to incorporate these foods into your diet, consider a bowl of strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
And for lunch or dinner, toss together a colorful salad of leafy greens, avocados, broccoli, carrots, your protein of choice, and top it all off with almonds.
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