The brain is without a doubt the most amazing and intricate organ in the human body. The fact that consciousness, memories, intelligence, emotions, perceptions, and motor skills are all processed and stored just under the skull is really astounding. Maintaining or enhancing these essential functions should be your top priority. A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients that assist the brain is essential.
The best foods for improving neurogenesis are omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, zinc, iodine, and protein, said a 2021 study that was published in Nutrition Reviews. Among the aforementioned nutrients, one is particularly important for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that carry messages from one nerve cell to another. And protein is that nutrient! The nervous system, which is the body’s central neurological system, requires enough protein in order to produce the amino acids it needs to operate at peak efficiency.
High-protein snacks might help you make up for any nutritional deficiencies if you struggle to consume the recommended amount of protein each day. These are the top seven high-protein snacks to help maintain the health of your brain.
1. Salmon in a can
Salmon is a great source of protein and minerals, and its strong flavor and pink tint make it a perfect brain food. A 3-ounce serving of salmon contains 22 grams of protein, according to the USDA. If you choose to purchase it canned, you can simply transform it into a nutritious midday snack, such as our Avocado-Stuffed with Salmon, or a simple and fast Salmon Salad served with crackers or chips. In addition, salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitaminD. According to a 2022 review that was published in Cureus, omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain blood flow, memory, learning, and cognition, make up 35% of the brain. Try making our 5-star Ginger-Soy Salmon Balls to reap these benefits.
Mixed nuts make a fantastic, high-protein, on-the-go snack that is crispy and beneficial to the brain. A 2020 study that was published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research indicated that eating a range of nuts on a daily basis is linked to better cognitive function and a lower risk of cognitive decline. These nuts include walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts. According to the USDA, a 1-ounce serving of nuts like peanuts has 7 grams of protein, thus they are high in protein as well. But because of their high omega-3 fatty acid content, walnuts—little brain-shaped nuts—in particular are well known for their benefits to maintaining brain health.
If you really want to go all out, try making one of our delectable and nutritionally balanced energy ball recipes with nuts and nut butters combined with dried fruit. Recipes like our Peanut Butter-Stuffed Energy Balls are tasty, portable, and include cocoa powder for an extra dose of antioxidants that nourish the brain.
3. Blueberries with Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt’s creamy texture and the sweet-tart taste of blueberries combine to create a high-protein, in-between-meal snack that’s good for your brain. A 7-ounce portion of plain Greek yogurt has 20 grams of protein, according to the USDA. If that wasn’t astounding enough, a review from 2022 that was published in The Journals of Gerontology discovered that probiotics, like the ones in Greek yogurt, promote gut-brain connections that can enhance mental and cognitive health. Plus, adding blueberries to this tasty snack gives you an extra dose of antioxidants that protect the brain. Thus, remember to pick up some Greek yogurt and some blueberries the next time you go shopping so you can make our simple Yogurt with Blueberries.
Eating plant-based protein sources, such as edamame, is another strategy to improve brain function. The USDA states that just one cup of cooked edamame provides eighteen grams of complete protein. In addition to being high in protein, edamame is also a great source of fiber, folate, iron, choline, and plant chemicals called isoflavones, which may be good for your brain. In fact, a 2020 study that was published in Nutrition Reviews suggested that soy isoflavones may help adults’ memory and other cognitive functions. If one of your aims is to support your memory machine, consider enjoying some tasty Edamame with Aleppo Pepper as a snack.
5. Bits of Quinoa
There are other complete plant proteins on this list than edamame. As to the USDA, quinoa comprises 8 grams of complete protein per cup. A 2023 review that was published in Advances in Nutrition suggested that eating more whole grains—including quinoa—may help you feel happier and less anxious when it comes to promoting your mental health. Baked Broccoli-Cheddar Quinoa Bites, with their delicious cheddar cheese and fiber-rich broccoli, offer a well-balanced, brain-healthy snack.
6. Eggs, Hard-Boiled
Boil an egg or two for those days when you need a midmorning snack to help you think more clearly. Six grams of protein can be found in one hard-boiled egg, according to the USDA.
This implies that if you want to eat two boiled eggs, you can get up to 12 grams of protein. In addition, a 2018 study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition highlights the importance of lutein and choline, two nutrients that are vital for healthy brain and neurological development during the first 1,000 days of life and may be found in eggs. Even the possibility that lutein could reduce the likelihood of adult cognitive impairment is mentioned. To prepare Air-Fryer Hard-Boiled Eggs, simply plug in your air fryer if you’re looking for a hassle-free way to cook eggs.
7. Seeds from pumpkins
Despite their small size, pumpkin seeds have a surprising quantity of protein per serving. Eight grams of protein can be found in one ounce of pumpkin seeds, according to the USDA. Pumpkin seeds are particularly abundant in tryptophan, an amino acid. Tryptophan in pumpkin seeds can be transformed into the neurotransmitter serotonin, which has been demonstrated to aid promote mental health, memory, and other functions. This is highlighted by a 2022 study published in Plants.
The Final Word
Even though the brain is one of the body’s most complex organs, eating a diet rich in protein doesn’t have to be difficult to support it. The secret is to seek for foods high in protein that are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins and minerals that support the development of the brain. Salmon, Greek yogurt, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, edamame, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds are a few of the best snack options. Your taste buds and brain will both appreciate it if you include a few of these items in your snack rotation.