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3 Natural Brain Foods for Short-Term Boosts continued...

But she warns against too much of a good thing: "If you have a big plate of pasta and some bread at lunch before a meeting, you're going to want to take a siesta."

3. Glucose for Memory

Everyone has heard of the "sugar high." But is it real, and is it a good thing?

A small study of older adults examined this issue: they were given a sweet drink or other carbs - and those participants fared better on memory tests than others who were given a placebo.

Somer says you'll get more bang for your buck with whole grains (that is, healthy complex carbs) rather than a quick hit of sugar.

"You'll get the glucose level you need without the spikes," she says

Natural Brain Foods for Long-Term Benefits

1. Natural Brain Foods for Alertness: Fish for Omega-3s

"People who eat lots of omega-3s maintain brain capacity, concentration and alertness much better," says Somer.

Kulze recommends getting your omega-3 fatty acids from oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and trout.

"Wild Alaskan salmon is best," Kulze says. "It has a lot of omega-3s, plus other brain nutrients such as the B vitamins and selenium."

Aim for three servings per week. You can also get omega 3s in fortified eggs.

2. Natural Brain Foods for Cognition: Dark Fruits and Veggies for Antioxidants

"The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables protect the brain from oxidants that damage delicate cell membranes and brain cells, and may cause dementia," Somer says. "Maintaining a high antioxidant level is important for cognition and memory."

Look for darker colored fruits and vegetables for highest levels. Most nutritionists name blueberries as the ultimate antioxidant powerhouse.

3. Natural Brain Foods for Memory: Spinach, Broccoli, and Beans for B Vitamins

"Vitamins like B-6 and B-12 are important in maintaining your nervous system in general and are associated with improved memory and alertness," Somer says.

While B-12 and folic acid (folate) are best absorbed in supplement form, she says, "be aware that as you get older you need more B-12. Foods like spinach, broccoli, or beans are a good source of folate."

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