|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.
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:
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.
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.
Resveratrol comes from:
Here are a few standout studies conducted on nitrate-rich foods that increase blood flow to the brain
Those who received 75 mg of resveratrol saw a 13-percent improvement in blood flow velocity to major cerebral arteries.
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.”
The participants given high-flavonol cocoa drinks experienced immediate improvements in 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!”