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Fruits & Vegetables That Are Good for the Brain

By Tracy Morris

All foods play a role in your body's health. Some are more crucial than others to a particular organ or system's optimal performance. The brain needs fats, proteins, carbohydrates and micronutrients. The Franklin Institute uses a four-sided pyramid concept to describe how fatty acids, amino acids, glucose and micronutrients work together to build, maintain, fuel and repair your brain.

Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids make up nearly two-thirds of your brain, according to the Franklin Institute. Fatty acid molecules compose the outer layer of neurons -- which transmit information throughout your brain -- and are crucial dietary components for brain health. Most fruits and vegetables aren't known for containing fat, but some do. Avocados are a tasty and versatile source, and so is coconut. You also need alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that green leafy vegetables provide. Corn provides some linoleic acid, another essential fatty acid.

Amino Acids

Your brain needs amino acids, which are supplied by protein, to nourish cells. The best sources for complete proteins, of course, are meats and dairy products. Some vegetables, however, offer some of the amino acids your brain needs, such as tryptophan, phenylalanine and tyrosine. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C and E also play a role in protecting neurons from damage by free radical molecules. Tyrosine can be gleaned from avocados, bananas, lima beans and some seeds. Dried beans -- legumes -- and green leafy vegetables supply essential amino acids.

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Glucose

Without carbohydrates, your body doesn't get the glucose it needs to fuel cells. Glucose is the only fuel for your brain's cells, according to the Franklin Institute, and it factors heavily in the function of memory. Complex carbohydrate foods, as well as those that are lower on the glycemic index, are better for overall, long-term functioning of the brain. Virtually all fruits and vegetables provide some carbohydrates.

Micronutrients

Your brain depends on oxygen for survival and function. The USDA Agricultural Research Service continues to unveil data on the numerous types of micronutrients that act to balance the oxygen in your brain. These complex molecules also work against cell-damaging free radical oxygen molecules. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables provides your brain with micronutrients, especially vitamins E, C and A, plus lutein, beta carotene and lycopene. At the top of list are citrus fruits, blueberries, cherries, blackberries, cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cabbage, and green leafies such as spinach, greens and kale.

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