When’s the last time you misplaced your keys and thought, “Yikes! I’d better eat more blueberries!”? Never? Well, it might be time to start because, as you’ll soon see, eating certain brain-boosting foods can help give your brain the lift it needs.

Now, experts recommend all sorts of ways to boost your cognitive function — like getting more exercise or doing crossword puzzles. And these are great recommendations.

But when it comes to making sure your mind is “firing on all cylinders,” eating brain-boosting foods is a critical piece of the puzzle too.

So, whether you’re looking to stay sharp as you age, studying for the bar exam, or just want to remember where you’ve placed your belongings, you can start eating these five inexpensive brain-boosting foods for mental clarity and razor-sharp focus.

1. Blueberries

Summer brings warm weather, long days with plenty of sunlight, and in-season brain-boosting foods… like blueberries.

Brain-Boosting Foods | Urban Monk NutritionAnd this isn’t just opinion, there’s some pretty strong science to back up the cognitive-enhancing properties of blueberries.

In fact, in a recent 2018 study, researchers had 37 people — ages 60 to 75 — eat one cup of fresh blueberries every day. At the same time, they had a control group eat no berries at all. Researchers were looking to see what effect, if any, blueberries had on brain function. Both groups were then given mental tests after 45 and 90 days.

The results? Compared to the control group, those who ate blueberries every day scored significantly better on virtually every single test.1

And keep in mind, this was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial — the gold standard when it comes to scientific studies.

The results were truly impressive.

And here’s another bonus: blueberries are also associated with improved mood and decreased feelings of stress.2

Want some easy ways to incorporate blueberries to your diet? Simply add them to cereal, yogurt, or smoothies. Blueberries are almost always on sale when they’re in season, and here’s an interesting trick:

You might be able to save even more money by picking your own.

Local farms will let you bring your own buckets and fill them up for pretty cheap (which also makes transporting them home a lot easier).

2. Walnuts

Walnuts are an awesome source of vitamin B-6 – a brain-boosting all star. Studies have shown that increased intake of vitamin B6 is associated with:

  • Faster processing of information3
  • Better recall and recognition4
  • Improved verbal ability 5

Brain-Boosting Foods | Urban Monk NutritionWalnuts are also a rich source of iron, which is an essential nutrient for your brain. Insufficient levels of iron are linked to a shorter attention span and trouble processing sensory information – like sights, sounds, touch, and taste.6

Of course, a true iron deficiency is something to discuss with your doctor, but for a bit of an iron boost, grab a handful of walnuts. You can even keep some in your car for an on-the-go snack!

Nuts tend to be pricey in general, so here’s a money-saving tip: buy them unshelled. Not only is that the cheapest way to buy walnuts, they’ll also store for up to a year when refrigerated in a tightly-sealed container.

3. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a magical food. Not only is it a decadent treat, it’s also got some very exciting health benefits.

Brain-Boosting Foods | Urban Monk NutritionMany of these health benefits are due to chocolate’s flavonoid content. Flavonoids are plant nutrients that have powerful antioxidant abilities.

Need a refresher on antioxidants? Antioxidants have the unique capability of neutralizing the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are damaging molecules found in the environment. They often come from sources like pollution and UV rays. These damaging molecules play a huge role in the aging process, including the aging of the brain.7

So to help combat the brain aging process, it’s essential to get plenty of antioxidants in your diet.

Need some proof that flavonoids work? Researchers in France studied people age 65 and older for a period of 10 years. They found that subjects who got plenty of flavonoids in their diets maintained better cognitive function than those who didn’t.8

Another bonus of dark chocolate? It keeps much longer than milk chocolate!

And, if you hit the sales after big holidays like Valentine’s Day and Easter, you can save big on this flavonoid-rich treat. So, go ahead and treat yourself to some dark chocolate after dinner. You deserve it!

4. Broccoli

Eat your broccoli. No, really!

Broccoli is an incredible source of vitamin C. And vitamin C is thought to help prevent premature cognitive decline and memory problems.9

Brain-Boosting Foods | Urban Monk NutritionBroccoli also contains vitamin K, which doesn’t get talked about enough. Because vitamin K is absolutely vital for brain function. Studies have shown that increased levels of vitamin K are strongly correlated with better memory and brain performance.10

So, it turns out Mom was right: we should be eating our broccoli.

Now, keep in mind, produce prices change throughout the season. So, if the frozen version is cheaper, go for it. Studies have shown that many vegetables — including broccoli — actually retain their vitamins, even though the freezing process.11

5. Green Tea

This one can’t be recommended enough.

Part of green tea’s cognitive benefits are due to its caffeine content. Caffeine often gets a bad rap, but it’s actually got some amazing health benefits. Studies have shown that the caffeine found in green tea — combined with a green tea amino acid known as “L-theanine” — can help improve your memory and increase your attention span. The combination is also thought to help reduce feelings of stress.12

Brain-Boosting Foods | Urban Monk NutritionGreen tea is also an antioxidant powerhouse. One particular antioxidant — EGCG — may help protect against factors that lead to memory impairment.13

So, while you’re munching on blueberries, walnuts, dark chocolate, and broccoli, why not pour yourself a nice cup of green tea? It’ll be a great way to wash it all down.

Green tea tends to be inexpensive but to really stretch your dollars, you can buy loose green tea leaves in bulk, instead of buying ready-made tea bags.

Foods That Improve Mental Clarity

As you can see, your diet has a profound effect on your body and your brain.

So, the next time you’re at the store, stock up on these inexpensive brain-boosting foods. They’ll feed your brain, so you can look forward to a long — and memorable — life.


For more health wisdom from Eastern philosophies and the Urban Monk, keep reading here:

5 Ways Meditation Can Make You Happier (and improve your health!)
Here’s Why You Should Try Tai Chi (benefits)