Which Fruits Are Best for Brain Function?

If you ask any doctor or registered dietitian, they’ll tell you that the best kind of diet for overall health includes a wide variety of healthy foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. While all these foods are necessary for robust nutrition, many of the most important nutrients come from fruits. But even beyond providing the necessary vitamins and minerals that the body uses for everyday functions, there are also many components with health benefits that can improve cognitive function and prevent damage to brain cells.

How Can Fruit Help the Brain? 

A healthy diet that includes different types of fruit can support brain function in a variety of ways depending on the combination of nutrients found in a particular fruit. For instance, many fruits contain vitamin C, an essential nutrient that is involved in the production of some of the neurotransmitters the brain uses to regulate different aspects of health. Another example are the B vitamins, such as folate (B9), that are involved in mood regulation and general cognitive function. Similarly, vitamin K is thought to promote the survival of neurons.

One of the other major ways fruit can potentially improve brain function is by being a primary source of antioxidants. Numerous compounds in fruit can have antioxidant properties, including some vitamins as well as polyphenols and flavonoids. Antioxidants are so valuable because they protect neurons and other cells from free radicals, which are particles that are produced during various biochemical reactions in the body. If not absorbed by antioxidants, free radicals can cause oxidative stress, a condition that is associated with the development of many diseases and disorders.

Eating one piece of fruit of course can’t cure disease, but incorporating a variety of fruits into one’s daily diet has been shown to improve brain health and prevent some diseases. Studies have shown1, for example, that regular intake of the chemicals that fruits possess can lead to reduced risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, memory loss, and age-related cognitive decline. Moreover, antioxidants and other compounds in fruits can also have a positive impact on cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure or heart disease.

Best Fruits for Brain Health

Essentially every kind of fruit can be beneficial for preventing cognitive impairment, but there are some that have particularly high concentrations of antioxidants and nutrients. These “brain foods” are especially important for older adults to prioritize in their diet. Below are some examples of fruits that are beneficial for brain health:

  • Blueberries: Blueberries are considered one of the best fruits for brain health and overall health because they are so rich in antioxidants. They are notably high in anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment that also has antioxidant properties. Anthocyanins have been linked to improved cognitive function, and regular consumption may improve both memory and learning.
  • Raspberries: In addition to high vitamin C content, raspberries are also rich in other antioxidants like quercetin, a flavonoid thought to neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to brain cells.
  • Blackberries: Like blueberries, blackberries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins that are believed to have neuroprotective effects.
  • Oranges: Oranges and other citrus fruits are well known for being good sources of vitamin C, an essential vitamin that also has antioxidant properties. Beyond being instrumental in the production of neurotransmitters and the repair of tissue, vitamin C is also important in maintaining a health immune system.
  • Apples: Apples are rich in quercetin as well as other phenolic compounds that have an antioxidant effect. Apples are also rich in dietary fiber, which may help reduce inflammation and support gut health; some recent research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome is important for brain health and cognitive function.2
  • Pomegranates: Like other fruits, pomegranates have antioxidants with neuroprotective effects found in the juice and seeds. Yet pomegranates also contain an antioxidant compound almost totally unique to the fruit called punicalagin; it is found in the rind of the fruit and can be used in dietary supplements.
  • Bananas: Bananas also have carotenoids like beta-carotene that have antioxidant effects, but they are perhaps best known for being a great source of potassium. Potassium can improve blood pressure and other circulatory functions, but it is also thought to be involved in regulating some of the communication between neurons in the brain.
  • Avocados: While avocados usually get labeled as vegetables, they are technically a type of fruit. Avocados are thought to be helpful for brain health in part because they are a source of healthy fats that can lower inflammation. Avocados also contain magnesium, which is a mineral that is important for maintaining the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

Premium Ingredients from FruitSmart

There’s no doubt that including a variety of fruits in your diet is one of the easiest ways to improve overall health and especially brain function. Fruits contain a number of substances that are associated with better brain function, but eating raw fruit isn’t the only way to access their benefits. Commercial food manufacturers regularly use fruit juices, essences, and concentrates to add flavor, texture, and nutritional value to all kinds of recipes, from kombucha and nutraceuticals to seltzers and cocktail mixes.

At FruitSmart, we are passionate about providing premium ingredients that can take a food or beverage product to the next level. But our experienced and qualified team is about more than just selling products; we’re also curious and creative and love unanswered questions. Beyond just providing products, we want to partner with you to help you develop new recipes that will wow your customers. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings, or about how you can partner with FruitSmart, please contact us today.

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