Salmon is high in Omega-3, an Essential Fatty Acid. Omega-3-rich foods increase the efficiency of various brain functions, including improved memory. About half of the omega-3 fat in salmon is in the form of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) provides approximately one third. DHA is the active component in fish, and many researchers consider it to be the most critical fat found in the human brain. DHA is essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in infants and is required for maintenance of normal brain function in adults. A diet high in DHA results in improved learning ability, while deficiencies of DHA are associated with deficits in learning (source). DHA can also help prevent inflammation in the brain and inflammation is the root of so many illnesses.
When I first learned about treating Attention Deficit Disorder I learned that a diet high in Essentially Fatty Acids – including Omega-3-rich foods – would help me. After I added EFA supplements, more fish and other supplements into my diet, my symptoms improved noticeably within a couple of months. Now when my ADD symptoms are severe, I eat more fish, and my symptoms improve.
Salmon is also high in vitamins A and D and in selenium. These nutrients help protect the nervous system.
And, studies show that lack of fish consumption is related to depression.
The Health Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are a reliable source of nutrients that are important for brain health, including vitamin E, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), folate and unsaturated fatty acids, as well as l-carnitine.
Vitamin E protects cell membranes from damage. Riboflavin and l-carnitine are capable of positively affecting neurological activity and preventing cognitive decline. Folate produces dopamine. L-carnitine has neuroprotective benefits (source). Neuroprotective means to protect nerve cells against damage, degeneration, or impairment of function.
One study indicated that almonds enhanced memory function in rats.
The Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
These little seeds are packed with protein, brain-friendly antioxidants, and omega fats. They contain vitamin E, and their fiber is prebiotic fiber, which is good for the gut (it feeds on probiotics), which is good for the immune system and the brain.
Hemp seeds are rich in Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA), an Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acid. GLA and GLA-rich foods can help with ADHD.
Another seed rich in Omega 3. Other significant nutrients in pumpkin seeds that help your brain:
Zinc, which boosts your immune system (also a standard recommendation for fighting colds), and helps enhance memory and focus
Magnesium, which has a calming effect and is known to alleviate depression. A large number of people are deficient. Some resources I've read in the past say that most people are.
Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that your body converts into serotonin and later into the sleep aid miracle, melatonin. Good sleep is crucial for overall health and helps cognitive function.
Glutamate. A precursor to GABA, glutamate is involved in cognitive functions such as learning and memory. GABA is a neurotransmitter. Low levels of GABA results in anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, seizures, and schizophrenia. GABA calms the brain.
Sesame seeds are another rich source of vitamin E. They're also high in niacin (vitamin B3), which helps GABA production and can help to reduce anxiety. Like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds contain tryptophan. They're also high in amino acids methionine and lysine (lower amounts). Without going too into the science, I'll say that methionine is essential to neurological function and can help maintain brain/mental health. I've got notes about it from my read of The UltraMind Solution. Lysine deficiency causes low levels of serotonin, which is seen in depression. Almonds also contain lysine.
Sesame seeds provide protein as well, which is a good thing all around.
That all said, a small quantity won't have significant results but incorporate these foods into your life in other ways (e.g., sprinkled on yogurt and salads, as suggested above) and make this dish part of your regular repertoire. I've mostly discussed brain health benefits here, but of course, there are more.
For tonight's dinner, I take on liver with onions and bacon.