7 Foods That May Boost Your Brain Power

What foods might make you smarter? Truth be told, there are a lot of foods that may improve learning, understanding and memory. Intelligence, memory and learning rely on many factors, including physical activity, sleep and food.

I’ve listed 7 foods that may strengthen your brain function today, and promote long-term brain health for tomorrow. While the brain-boosting properties associated with these food elements may strengthen your brain function, they have not been proven to do so in controlled studies. Nevertheless, all of these foods add healthy nutritional components to your diet.

Take note of your food allergens and discard them from your personal list of brain-boosting foods---but read about them, because I’ve made a point to list some alternative foods.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Flavonoids, the health promoting pigments in plants that give them their color, may help improve memory, learning and general thinking, while slowing down the age-related decreases in mental ability and memory. Blueberries are chock full of flavonoids.


Blueberries are incredibly convenient and versatile. Include them on cereal, mixed in salads, quick breads, pancakes, and yogurt parfaits, or just grab a handful. Any form will do: fresh, frozen, dried, or freeze-dried.



black and green olives

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Eating olives regularly may lead to less brain deterioration over time. This is due to the mono-unsaturated fat contained in olives. These healthy fats are incorporated into all cells and may promote the transportation of more oxygen to the brain.

Be sure to watch your intake of saturated fats (from meats, dairy sources, and fried foods), which may stiffen cell membranes.

Use olives as a snack food, as a side dish in lunch boxes, or as a pre-dinner appetizer. Include them in casseroles, Mexican fare, salads, atop pizza and more! Olives are also commonly included in Mediterranean meals and dishes.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

If you aren’t allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, eating nuts may help preserve your brain function. Why? Because nuts are a source of monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, both of which may protect the brain from degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s. How do they do it? They squelch those brain cell-damaging elements called free radicals.

 A little goes a long way! Make sure to pay attention to portion sizes when eating nuts. You can include nuts as a cereal or yogurt topper, as a stand-alone snack, or on top of salad or cooked veggies. If you are allergic to nuts, try using seeds instead. They may offer similar brain benefits.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Another common food allergen, fish may be off-limits for some individuals, but for those who can eat fish, fatty fish may have some incredible brain benefits. For one, eating fish regularly seems to have an effect on brain size (mass).

Regular consumption of fish may also slow the brain aging process. The oils (omega-3 fatty acids) present in fatty fish may help enhance problem-solving, concentration, and memory.

If you aren’t allergic to fish, get the fish habit started and work toward the ideal amount of fish consumption, which is equal to 2 servings per week of fatty fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel, trout). Even eating 1 serving per week is better than none at all! Limit the consumption of mercury-containing tuna to 6 ounces per week. If you’re allergic to fish, try walnuts, micro algae, or sea vegetables high in omega 3s.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Who doesn’t love chocolate? This may be the best news you’ll hear all day: dark chocolate may increase blood flow to the brain, and improve thinking and mood. Why? Those cocoa flavanols (phytonutrients naturally found in the cocoa bean) and caffeine do the trick.

Be picky when it comes to sweets. If you’re eating them, choose sweets such as dark chocolate that add to your overall health.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Avocados are naturally rich in lutein—a carotenoid that is related to beta carotein and vitamin A. Lutein may provide certain cognitive benefits.

Quick Tip: Mash avocado on sandwiches in lieu of mayonnaise, chop it into cubes as finger food, or serve a halved avocado with a spoon and a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. You can also use avocado in your baking, such as in avocado-based brownies.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Choline is an important nutrient in the development of the memory center, which is a process that occurs during the first 6 years of life. One egg yolk has about 200 milligrams of choline, which meets or nearly meets the needs of children up to 8 years. Men need 550 mg choline per day, while women need 425 mg choline per day, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Eggs are one of the richest sources of choline in the diet, in addition to an array of other nutrients.

Quick Tip: Chicken liver, sockeye salmon and quinoa are alternative sources of choline should you need to avoid eggs. 

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Stringham JM, Johnson EJ, Hammond BR. Lutein across the lifespan: From childhood cognitive performance to the aging eye and brain. Curr Dev Nutr. 2019 Jun 4;3(7):nzz066. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzz066

Additional Reading
  • Joneja JV. The Health Professional's Guide to Food Allergies and Intolerances. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013.

  • Zeisel, SH, & Da Costa, KA. Choline: An essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009; 67(11): 615-623. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x.

By Jill Castle, MS, RD
Jill Castle, MS, RD, is a childhood nutrition expert, published book author, consultant, and public speaker who helps parents nourish healthy kids.