When it comes to eating for brain health, the focus tends to land on omega-3s. While it’s true that the fatty acids are 100 percent linked to boosting cognitive health, Well+Good Wellness Council member and Columbia University psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, says a lot of people are forgetting another nutrient that’s majorly good for your brain: vitamin E.
“This is one of my absolute favorite nutrients,” Dr. Ramsey shared on Instagram. “Vitamin E is a firefighter. Every second, thousands of ‘fires’ erupt on the surface of your cells, and the dedicated job of vitamin E is to put those fires out,” he explains. “Your brain is particularly vulnerable to fires because it contains high concentrations of omega-3 fats, and these fats are very easy to oxidize.”
According to Dr. Ramsey, a whopping 96 percent of people don’t eat enough foods with vitamin E to reach a recommended 15 milligrams daily. Not getting enough can not only lead to impaired cognitive function, but it is also linked to depression. The good news is, there are a lot choices full of the nutrient.
Of course, right? Avocado packs a one-two punch when it comes to eating for brain health because it has healthy fats *and* vitamin E. One cup of sliced avocado has 21 percent of the vitamin E daily requirements. There’s a reason why healthy eaters are so obsessed with the fruit.
Adding a mere one-fourth of a cup of sunflower seeds to your salad has 7.4 milligrams of vitamin E—37 percent of what you need for the whole day. Similarly, sunflower seed oil also contains the nutrient, so just cooking with it or drizzling it on top of your meal can up your intake.
According to the National Institute of Health, almonds and hazelnuts in particular are good sources of vitamin E, with 6.8 milligrams and 4.3 milligrams, respectively. Like avocado, nuts are also a good source of healthy fat, so incorporating them into your diet benefits your brain in more ways than one.
Broccoli is a vegetable rich in vitamin E, with 1.6 milligrams per serving, or 6 percent of the daily value, according to the NIH. Adding a cup of broccoli to your next pasta dish help increase fiber intake, too.
One serving of spinach has 3 percent of the recommended DV and can serve as the perfect base for literally all the foods on this list. Pretty cool how they all go together, right?
This Mediterranean diet staple is full of vitamin E—13 percent of the recommended daily value in one serving, in fact. Drizzle a tablespoon on top of your salad, fish, or eggs for a nutrient-rich meal.