Eating fruit is one of the most delicious ways to nurture your mind and body. Most of us already understand that eating a wide variety of fruit is part of having a balanced diet for health, but do you know why exactly fruits are so good for you? Read below for a quick breakdown of what components of fruits make them so healthy, especially for your brain!
Fruits are full of fibre, which can benefit your digestion – but did you know it can also help keep your brain healthy? There is evidence that eating a fibre rich diet can help produce a compound that reduces brain premature aging through an anti-inflammatory response (Matt et al., 2018). The study in question was done on mice, but it could prove to be beneficial for humans too. Fibre is an important part of our gut health, which can have far reaching consequences for the rest of our health too. Fruits that are particularly high in fibre include strawberries and apples (with the skin on).
Oxidative stress is the damage done to our cells by free radicals, which are produced by our bodies in response to environmental stress, such as smoking or drinking alcohol. This damage can lead to increased susceptibility to diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and more (Park & Ellis, 2020). However, antioxidants are believed to be able to help neutralise these threats. One of the best and most enjoyable ways to consume antioxidants is by eating fruits! Berries, in particular, are full of powerful antioxidants that can help prevent the damage done by oxidative stress (Park & Ellis, 2020). Examples of antioxidants include some vitamins and flavonoids.
There are, of course, many different types of vitamins available in fruits, each with its own set of benefits. For instance, Vitamin C – found in all sorts of fruits but most famously in oranges and another citrus – has a whole host of benefits for cognitive health (Estroff Marano, 2018). It is an antioxidant and also plays a role in the synthesis of important neurotransmitters like dopamine. Furthermore, Vitamin E, which can be found in fruits like mango and kiwi, also shows evidence of being a powerful antioxidant and protecting against the damage done by diseases like Alzheimer’s (Fata et al., 2014).
There are lots of different minerals that are absolutely essential for brain health. These include zinc and magnesium, which are essential for healthy brain function (Lake, 2017). Potassium as well is an important mineral for our health, serving as an electrolyte which helps nerve signals function as they should. Furthermore, a potassium-rich diet can help prevent strokes (D’Elia, 2011). Potassium is most famously found in bananas, but can also be found in apricots and grapefruit.
Flavonoids are another type of antioxidant that are beneficial for preparing our body to fight off oxidative stress (Panche et al., 2016). There is a ton of evidence that suggests that eating fruits rich in flavonoids, such as forest fruits, can help promote cognitive functioning and keep your brain young for longer (Spencer, 2009). Forest fruits taste great on their own but are also delicious in smoothies, which have the added benefit of helping you cool down in the hot summer months.
5. Healthy fats
Healthy fats are very important for our body’s functioning, including our brain! There are loads of evidence that suggests that eating monounsaturated fats – like those found in fruit like avocados – has a huge effect on our memory and other cognitive functioning (Wenk, 2012). This could help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline in your later years!
Eating your fruit is a delicious way to keep you and your brain healthy! Take advantage of all the benefits fruit can give you by making sure to have your five a day.
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Genevieve Wight is an intern and volunteer at Willingness. She is currently completing her Masters in Health and Medical Psychology at Leiden University.
D’Elia, L., Barba, G., Cappuccio, F. P., & Strazzullo, P. (2011). Potassium intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 57(10), 1210–1219. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2010.09.070
Estroff Marano, H. (2018). The cognitive benefits of Vitamin C. Psychology Today. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201801/the-cognitive-benefits-vitamin-c
Fata, G., Weber, P., & Mohajeri, M. (2014). Effects of vitamin E on cognitive performance during ageing and in alzheimer’s disease. Nutrients, 6(12), 5453–5472. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6125453
Lake, J. (2017). Magnesium and zinc are essential for healthy brain function. Psychology Today. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201709/magnesium-and-zinc-are-essential-healthy-brain-function
Matt, S. M., Allen, J. M., Lawson, M. A., Mailing, L. J., Woods, J. A., & Johnson, R. W. (2018). Butyrate and dietary soluble fiber improve neuroinflammation associated with aging in mice. Frontiers in Immunology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.01832
Panche, A. N., Diwan, A. D., & Chandra, S. R. (2016). Flavonoids: An overview. Journal of Nutritional Science, 5. https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2016.41
Park, H.-A., & Ellis, A. C. (2020). Dietary antioxidants and parkinson’s disease. Antioxidants, 9(7), 570. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9070570
Spencer, J. P. (2009). Flavonoids and Brain Health: Multiple effects underpinned by common mechanisms. Genes & Nutrition, 4(4), 243–250. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12263-009-0136-3
Wenk, G. (2012). Dietary fats that improve brain function. Psychology Today. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-brain-food/201205/dietary-fats-improve-brain-function