Most of us are familiar with the concept of superfoods: dietary dynamos that boast large amounts of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. Eating superfoods can keep you from getting sick and help you live longer; plus, people who eat a lot of them tend to be fitter and healthier than those who don’t. What’s not to like about that?

It gets better. Some superfoods have been shown to actually support and enhance brain function, contributing to greater mental clarity and focus. This quality is especially appealing to baby boomers, who are determined to live as long, and as well, as possible.

If fine-tuning your focus is important to you, consider incorporating these 7 “supers” into your diet:

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate increases the production of endorphins, which improve mood, reduce pain and lessen the negative effects of stress. This cacao-based confection is also rich in flavonoids, a kind of antioxidant that increases blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow boosts memory, attention span, reaction time and problem-solving skills, and may also prevent cognitive decline in seniors. In addition, the caffeine in dark chocolate has been shown to improve mental acuity. Not a bad deal for something that can double as dessert!

Coconut

Coconut is rich in what’s been referred to as “good fats” — which are essential to the optimal function of our brains. In particular, the MCT (medium chain triglyceride) fats in coconut, which bypass digestion and are absorbed immediately, help enhance focus and prevent mental fatigue. Coconut’s fats and amino acids also increase serotonin levels, which improves focus as well. Finally, coconut can help stave off cognitive decline related to age. It’s no wonder that populations that eat a lot of coconut are among the healthiest on the planet.

Almonds

The benefits of almonds have been known since ancient times. According to Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu mind-body health system, almonds increase intellectual level and longevity and are essential for brain development in children. Almonds are rich in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that aids in the formation of new neurons and the repair of damaged ones. They also contain vital compounds like riboflavin and L-carnitine, which are linked to increased brain activity and the formation of new neural connections in the brain. Almonds also offer protective benefits; eating them has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

 Chicory Root Fiber

Chicory root fiber, also known as chicory root extract or inulin, is a plant-based carbohydrate whose bonds cannot be broken by human digestive enzymes. Often called the “stealth fiber” because of its smooth and creamy texture, chicory root increases calcium absorption and helps maintain a healthy balance of “good” bacteria in the colon. It’s now recognized that maintaining that balance helps ward off anxiety, depression, “brain fog” and other conditions that are detrimental to focus and optimal cognitive performance.

Want more? Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this post, featuring three additional “supers” that offer support for both body and mind.

Sources:

Dark chocolate

9 Brain Boosting Benefits of Dark Chocolate

http://www.superfoodsrx.com/healthyliving/what-makes-dark-chocolate-a-superfood-benefits/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/brain-health-foods_n_1593650.html#slide=1087860

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/23/brain-food-superfoods_n_1895328.html

Coconut

How Coconut Benefits the Brain, Liver, and Digestive System

http://www.naturalnews.com/043953_coconuts_brain_function_cardiovascular_health.html

http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

Almonds

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-health-benefits-of-almonds-king-of-nuts.html

http://life.gaiam.com/article/top-6-foods-boost-brain-power

http://www.thehealthsite.com/fitness/health-benefits-of-almonds-or-badam/

Health Benefits of Almonds

Chicory root fiber

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-david-perlmutter-md/gut-bacteria-health_b_7428882.html

Brain Maker Foods

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25078296

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/07/07/high-fat-sugar-diet-makes-you-stupid?cmpid=tpfood-eml-2015-07-11-ads

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/05/05/what-is-inulin-chicory-root-fiber

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-92-chicory.aspx?activeingredientid=92&