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Boost your brain

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Everybody knows that eating a lot of fish is a great way to feed your mind, with the scaly dish even earning the title of "brain food". But there are loads of goodies out there which can boost your mind, and incorporating them into your everyday diet has never been easier. Whether you're embarking on a post-Christmas health kick, or just want to improve your intellect, check out our top food picks.

Broccoli

You may have shunned the broccoli on your plate as a child, but now you are a fully grown adult it's time to embrace the greenery. Broccoli is packed full of lignans, a group of chemical compounds which have been shown to benefit numerous brain functions including thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining and learning new words. They're also high in glucosinolates, which help promote levels of acetylcholine, vital in the central nervous system.

Coconut Oil

The must-have oil of 2014 is showing no signs of waning in popularity. With celebrities like Miranda Kerr waxing lyrical about how much she loves it, now is the time to add a bit of coconut goodness to your diet. Rich in medium-chain triglycerides, coconut oil is a naturally occurring source of dietary fat. Studies have shown these are great for weight loss, and provide an additional energy source for the brain, thereby improving its function. Coconut oil also has a higher heat tolerance, meaning swapping your regular cooking oil for coconut will result in more of the beneficial fats being retained.

Green Tea

Hailed as a wonder drink with cancer reducing properties, the benefits of green tea have long since been reported. But did you know it's great for brain function too? Recent studies have shown a green tea extract enhances cognitive function, particularly in the working memory of the brain. Try forgoing your morning cuppa for a steaming mug of green tea. Add honey or lemon to enhance the taste.

Black Pepper

Salt and pepper are the staples of a well-seasoned dish, but pepper also works on brain health. Make sure you go for fresh cracked pepper though, as it's more beneficial than an already cracked version. Pepper is full of piperine, an alkaloid that can help inhibit the breakdown of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters crucial to brain health and mood regulation. It has also been shown that black pepper may help and treat Parkinson's disease and even forestall brain ageing and help prevent Alzheimer's disease. Invest in a pepper grinder and enjoy liberally.

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