We all know we need to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for a healthy diet. But if you’re finding it a struggle, take inspiration from these healthy meal plans – including the best brain-fuelling nutrients for optimum mental health.
Two omega-3 enriched eggs, poached, and served with wilted spinach and wholegrain toast.Why? The eggs will give you a dose of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids,1 along with B vitamins, which help release energy from food and keep the nervous system healthy. The spinach and toast provide B vits too.2 Green tea is packed with flavonoids – a plant compound shown to help concentration – but it’s lower in caffeine than coffee and black tea.3,4
Green leafy salad dressed with flaxseed oil, served with hummus and oatcakes.Why? Leafy vegetables and oats are high in a range of B vitamins, while the chickpeas in the hummus are especially rich in folate – another B vit needed for various jobs, including making healthy blood cells.5 Flaxseed oil is a good veggie source of omega-3 fatty acids.6
Handpicked content: How omega-3 can benefit your health
Stir-fry made with mushrooms and broccoli, and served with brown rice. Follow with a big bowl of mixed berries, such as strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, topped with plain yoghurt or a dairy-free alternative. Cup of herbal tea.Why? Mushrooms, broccoli and brown rice all give you a serving of B vitamins,7,8 while berries are a rich source of those essential flavonoids.9 The herbal tea helps hydrate you without caffeine.10
Handpicked content: Why take a vitamin-B complex?
Need an extra nibble between meals? Pick from these brain-boosters:
Handpicked content: Should you go dairy-free?
1. NHS Choices. The vegetarian diet. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-vegetarian-diet/
2. NHS Choices. B vitamins and folic acid. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/
3. Bell L, et al. A Review of the Cognitive Effects Observed in Humans Following Acute Supplementation with Flavonoids, and Their Associated Mechanisms of Action. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690090/
4. Mayo Clinic. Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372
5. As Source 2
6. As Source 2
7. Medical News Today. What is the nutritional value of mushrooms? Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278858.php
8. As Source 2
9. Devore E, et al. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22535616
10. NHS Choices. Water, drinks and your health. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/water-drinks-nutrition/
11. Boyer J and Hai Liu R. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442131/
12. As Source 1
13. Nehlig A. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575938/
14. As Source 10