13 Foods That Increase Blood Flow To The Brain

Foods That Increase Blood Flow To The Brain
Foods That Increase Blood Flow To The Brain
My brain works hard for me every day. And the stronger the blood flow to my brain is, the more efficiently it can do its work. So, by eating foods that increase blood flow to the brain, I can boost my mental processes!

We know that for improving our memory and brain’s processing speed, healthy cerebral blood flow (CBF) is essential.  And a variety of plant-based foods increase cerebral blood flow.

How?

Primarily with nitrates or polyphenols. First, the nitrates:

Nitrate-Rich Foods That Increase Blood Flow to the Brain

Greens and veggies with an abundance of nitrates include:

  • arugula
  • rhubarb
  • lettuce
  • beets
  • cilantro
  • spinach

and celery.

Once in our bodies, nitrates turn into nitric oxide (NO). NO improves the flexibility of the inner lining  (endothelium) of our circulatory system. A flexible endothelium leads to better blood flow to the brain.

Let’s take a look at a couple of studies conducted on nitrate-rich foods that increase blood flow to the brain.

  •  Wake Forest University researchers randomized elderly participants into two groups. Each group started on either a high-nitrate diet featuring beetroot juice or a low-nitrate diet. Then after a short washout period, the groups switched places and consumed the opposite meal plan.

    Beets are one of the foods that increase blood flow to the brain.
    Beets are one of the healthiest foods that increase blood flow to the brain.

Neither meal significantly increased blood flow to the entire body. However, the high-nitrate diet specifically increased blood flow to the frontal lobe white matter, an area of the brain directly involved in executive functioning.

Forty adult participants received either a glassful of beetroot juice or a placebo (fake) beet juice. Then they spent nearly one hour performing specific cognitive tasks designed to activate the prefrontal cortex.

At the start of the test, those who had the real beetroot juice experienced an increase in blood flow to their prefrontal cortex. After that, CBF decreased when they performed the least demanding parts of the test but increased when the test necessitated their “working memory, psychomotor speed, and executive functioning.”

Polyphenol-Rich Foods that Increase Blood Flow to the Brain

Cocoa, blueberries, and other foods rich in certain polyphenols also increase blood flow to the brain. Polyphenols include various phenolic acids, such as resveratrol and flavonols.

apples is one of those Foods That Increase Blood Flow To The Brain
Eating an apple a day can increase the blood flow to your brain!

Resveratrol comes from:

  • red grape skin
  • apples
  • peanuts
  • plums
  • raspberries

and blueberries.

Here are a few standout studies conducted on nitrate-rich foods that increase blood flow to the brain

  • In a University of Newcastle study, Australian researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, balanced crossover intervention. The 36 participants had type two diabetes putting them at higher risk of endothelial dysfunction and “sub-clinical cognitive impairment.”

Those who received 75 mg of resveratrol saw a 13-percent improvement in blood flow velocity to major cerebral arteries.

  • A second University of Newcastle study of resveratrol had similarly impressive findings. Postmenopausal women ages 45 to 80 took two 75 mg resveratrol doses daily for 14 weeks.

The 17-percent improvement in blood flow velocity they experienced led to higher performance on cognitive tasks. In the researchers’ words:

“Significant improvements were observed in the performance of cognitive tasks in the domain of verbal memory and overall cognitive performance.”

  • University of Reading researchers in the UK conducted a randomized, counterbalanced crossover double-blind designed study with eight men and ten women aged 50 to 65.

The participants given high-flavonol cocoa drinks experienced immediate improvements in blood flow to the brain.

  • A randomized controlled trial from the University of Exeter in the UK tested a blueberry concentrate’s effect on blood flow to the brain.

For 12 weeks, 26 participants took either a once-a-day blueberry concentrate or a placebo. A battery of tests determined their cognitive performance.

The researchers found marked improvements in cerebral blood flow. Only those who consumed blueberry concentrate had improved working memory and executive function.

These six studies provide all the evidence I need. Improving blood flow to my brain with high-nitrate and high-polyphenol foods is a “no-brainer!”

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