I promise there is no salmon in this smoothie.
(Although I did consider dark chocolate).
We all know that eating a varied diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best insurance policies against illness but interesting too is the ongoing research that points to how certain foods are specifically protective of brain health in terms of memory support and possibly even slowing down age-related cognitive decline.
On the list of anti-inflammatory foods in this connection, are notably: fatty fish; berries; nuts and seeds; and dark leafy greens.
Fatty Fish: fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, arctic char, mackerel and herring are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and keep the lining of brain cells flexible which in turn allows memory messages to pass easily between cells. These fats may also help prevent the build-up of the protein beta-amyloidthat can interfere with communication between brain cells.
Berries: berries are rich in polyphenols a type of antioxidant that helps protect brain cells by combating free radical damage, reducing inflammation and increasing the clearance of toxic proteins that accumulate with age. Enjoy the full range of berries, including: blueberry, blackberry, cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, acai berry, goji berry. Nuts and Seeds: nuts and seeds offer a wide range of health protective benefits. With respect to brain health, walnut in particular, with its high polyphenol content and fatty acid profile, has been shown to reverse cognitive and motor deficits observed in rats. A more recent and equally promising study demonstrated a significant impact on learning and memory in walnut fed rats compared to controls. Most interestingly in the latter study, the walnut fed rodentss also exhibited a significant decrease in food intake during walnut ‘treatment’ as well as increases in serotonin levels.
Dark Leafy Greens: studies continue to show a slower rate of cognitive decline among individuals who consume higher levels of leafy greens compared to those who do not. Scientists speculate that the brain protective effect of greens is attributable, at least in part, to their Vitamin E content – an antioxidant that protects brain cells from oxidative damage and inflammation. Green stars include: kale, arugula, rapine, collard greens, spinach and Swiss chard.
The Brain-Beautiful Smoothie
1 + 1/2 cup mixed berries (I used blueberry, blackberry and raspberry)
2 cups kale leaves, hand torn into pieces
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup walnuts
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp honey or agave nectar
This recipe will make two large smoothies with refills.
Wash kale leaves thoroughly and tear into pieces with your hands.
I like to gently steam my kale prior to incorporating it into my smoothies (you can simply skip this step if you prefer). I find it makes the kale softer, more supple and easier to digest and it only takes a couple of minutes to do.
Simply place washed kale leaves in a large sauce pan set to medium-low heat on the stove and squeeze water or fresh lime juice over top.
Once the sauce pan begins to heat up, cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to the lowest setting, allowing leaves to steam for a minute or two. Make sure the leaves do not overheat or they will burn.
The kale leaves will become softer and brighter after steaming.
Place berries, yogurt, water, vanilla, honey or agave and steamed kale into a blender or food processor and blend until kale is broken down and well integrated into the mixture.
Add walnuts and pulse again making any desired adjustments to thickness of the mixture (I like my smoothies thick and creamy and will often use a spoon to ‘drink’ them – you can dilute with water, milk or ice as desired).
My son devoured a 10 ounce glass of this delicious smoothie after school on Friday ~ yay!
I hope you and your family like it too.
Cheers to your beautiful, radiant minds!