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There are foods that naturally feed the brain and then there are foods that can actually harm brain function. Do you know which promote a healthy brain and which do not? Here is a list of best brain food items and ingredients to help you select a healthy brain diet – a diet full of brain-friendly foods to improve concentration, boost your memory and even prevent brain aging, among other health benefits.

The food categories are broken down by proteins, carbohydrates and fats and oils. In each category we will look at the best and worst foods. Additionally, we will look at the best brain diet foods in terms of brain-protecting antioxidant properties.

ADHD Alternative Diets

  • Sharpen the mind
  • Ease ADHD symptoms
  • Skyrocket school performance
  • Decrease hyperactivity
  •

When eating with the brain in mind, try to fill your plate with foods from the “Best” section and avoid foods listed as bad for the brain. There are a number of ADHD herbal medicine and alternative approaches. Before resorting to those means, try diet modifications first. You might find that is all you need to successfully get symptoms under control.


Best Proteins for the Brain: Salmon, tuna, sardines, eggs, beans, tofu, protein powders (soy, whey), cottage and ricotta cheese

Okay Proteins for the Brain: Turkey, chicken, clams, shrimp, other fish, lamb

Bad Proteins for the Brain: Red meats, pork, other fatty meats, processed meats, deli meats

Fats and Oils

Best Fats and Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, fish oil capsules, borage oil, evening primrose oil, black currant oil, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds

Okay Fats and Oils: Canola oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil

Bad Fats and Oils: Corn oil, vegetable oil, other processed cooking oils, saturated fats, trans fats


Good Carbs
Fruits: berries, apples, dark-skinned grapes, raisins, plums, prunes, avocado
Green vegetables: spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cilantro, parsley, basil, bell peppers, onions, garlic, tomato, yams and sweet potatoes
Whole grains: brown rice, barley, oats and oatmeal
Dark beans

Okay Carbs: Fresh fruits not already listed, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread

Bad Carbs: Potatoes, corn, white rice, processed sugars, processed flours

**There is an important note that needs to be made about eating fish: Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury, which can harm a child's developing nervous system. Salmon and sardines are both considered "low-mercury" fish while tuna has higher amounts. Additionally, wild salmon is a better pick over farm-raised salmon. The FDA and EPA suggest that pregnant women and young children eat a maximum of two low-mercury fish meals per week. 

Brain-Protecting Antioxidant Foods

Variety is the key when offering a diet for ADHD kids. Read through the list of high antioxidant foods and choose the foods you will most likely to enjoy on a daily basis. Put these foods on your grocery list but don't stop there. Go back to the list and select foods that you might not eat every day but that you wouldn't mind adding to your diet. Browse for recipes online that include those foods. Diversity is important in the ADD and ADHD diet because each of these foods brings their unique combination of nutrients to the table, so to speak.

Vegetables: Red onions, red cabbage, garlic, spinach, kale, broccoli, sweet potato, parsley, cilantro, peppers, artichoke, brussels sprouts, red beets

Fruits: Berries, avocado, pomegranate, dark-skinned apples, dark-skinned grapes, prunes, plums, citrus fruits, pineapple, kiwi fruit

Beans, Nuts and Seeds: Broad beans, pinto beans, soybeans, red beans, black beans, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, flax seed, sesame seed, sunflower seeds

Cereals: Barley, millet, oats

Spices and Herbs: Cloves, oregano, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, sage, curry, basil

For an ADHD holistic diet approach, try to incorporate as many of the foods listed in this section into your daily diet. These foods are especially good for a brain diet. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that harm the brain. Think of antioxidants as the guardian of your brain. Antioxidants defend against the effects of free radicals by either breaking the free radicals into harmless substances or by preventing free radicals from attacking healthy cells.

Many people incorporate ADD supplements and other ADD alternatives if they are unable to fulfill the nutritional requirements through diet alone.

With this list of foods, you can easily devise a brain diet to feed your smarts. Bon appetit!