We all have those moments of mind-wandering and having a tough time to focus while working. Those are usually the moments when your productivity has hit the wall.
Now, if this happens too often, it might be because you’re tired, can’t sleep well, or your personal issues are interfering with work. Either way, your daily working routine needs to change so that you can work effectively again.
Aside from getting some much-needed sleep and rest, you may need to rethink your eating habits. As stated by the World Health Organization, “adequate nutrition can raise productivity levels by 20% on average”.
Luckily for you, there are certain types of food that can not only increase your productivity but also make you happy and healthy. Since these foods have superhero-like effects on your productivity and general health, they’re called superfoods.
What Are Superfoods and Why Are They Important?
Considering that they consist of a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, superfoods are good for your physical and mental health. In addition, they can lower the risks of diseases.
In general, a nutritious diet can help you:
- Decrease the risk of heart disease.
- improve your memory and other cognitive functions.
- safeguard your cells and organs from toxins.
- boost your immune system.
- reduce the levels of cholesterol.
Naturally, when you’re healthy, you’ll be able to focus on work and to be productive. So, in a way, these superfoods improve your health, but also your brain functions. Thus, they’re known as brain foods, as well.
Superfoods are mainly fruits and vegetables, but certain types of fish and animal products, too. So, let’s have a closer look at the top 10 superfoods that boost your productivity and learn more about their benefits.
You may prefer eating them fresh, in a smoothie, or with pancakes. Either way, keep indulging in blueberries. These berries are one of the best brainpower boosters.
Blueberries can increase some brain function, for instance, cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment can be a short-term or permanent condition. This condition can cause issues with one’s thinking, communication, or memory.
There were many pieces of research on how blueberries impact cognitive impairments. In one of these studies, there were nine older adults with mild cognitive impairment. They drank blueberry juice every day. The results of the research showed that there was a significant improvement in memory performance after 12 weeks of consuming blueberry juice.
In addition, blueberries are high in antioxidants, the substances that stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Therefore, eating blueberries will keep your mind fresh.
When it comes to other ingredients rich in antioxidants, blueberries are almost at the top of the scale. Take a look at the graph below for more details about these ingredients.
So, whenever you feel you can’t think clearly, take a break, and have some blueberries for a snack.
Avocado is a fruit packed with vitamins such as K, C, E, and B-6. Plus, avocados also include niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Avocados hold lutein, an antioxidant from the carotenoid group. Lutein boosts working memory and problem-solving abilities. According to the researchers from Tufts University, including avocado in your diet can increase levels of macular pigment density (MPD). That leads to enhanced cognitive performance. Researchers believe that eating avocado regularly is an effective way to maintain cognitive health in the aging population.
Aside from these benefits, avocado will help you keep your healthy cholesterol levels and will minimize eye damage.
One of the best morning routines to make your day more productive is to eat a banana. Here’s why: one banana has the exact amount of glucose that your brain needs during a day. Glucose is vital because your brain cells use it as their fuel.
Banana also contains elevated levels of magnesium. In fact, a large banana usually has 37 milligrams of magnesium. This mineral is quite useful for your brain because it supports the electrical activity of the nerve cells in your brain.
Finally, a large banana has 12 milligrams of tryptophan and the same amount of tyrosine. These are amino acids that your body needs to produce serotonin and dopamine. Since serotonin and dopamine regulate your mood, eating bananas will make you feel good, too.
So, on a busy morning when you don’t have time for breakfast, be sure to at least eat a banana. It will make you and your brain happy.
Did you know that tomato is 95% made of water? This superfood has a large amount of vitamin C, fiber, lycopene, and beta-carotene.
Speaking of lycopene and beta-carotene, there is an umbrella term for these two molecules – carotenoids. The purpose of these molecules is to protect fat in your body. This is especially important for your brain because nearly 60 percent of the brain is fat.
There are many other reasons why you should incorporate tomatoes in your daily diet. For instance, tomatoes are good for your skin’s health. Plus, they help lower the risks of having heart attacks and strokes.
Popeye’s favorite vegetable should be an essential part of a daily diet of those having an anemia condition. The reason is quite simple – spinach is rich in iron.
Besides this incredible fact, here are other reasons why you should eat spinach more often. This green vegetable has a high amount of vitamin K, which can slow the process of age-related cognitive decline.
We’ll dive into more details. There was a study at Rush University in Chicago. This five-year-long research gathered 954 elderly people who ate green vegetables, like spinach.
The results of this study showed that vitamin K can slow cognitive decline. So, people who had one or two meals with green leafy vegetables per day had cognitive functions of a much younger person (11 years younger than them).
Apart from vitamin K, the chlorophyll in spinach is quite healthy since it can prevent cancer. Spinach is also rich in potassium, which decreases blood pressure.
When cooking with eggplant, be sure not to peel off its skin. The eggplant skin contains many healthy antioxidants, such as an anthocyanin called nasunin.
Nasunin is beneficial because it can safeguard brain cell membranes against the damage from free radicals. In general, anthocyanins can enable blood flow to the brain. Therefore, there’s less chance of a memory loss.
If you eat eggplants often, it will help you decrease your levels of cholesterol. Additionally, this vegetable lowers the risk of heart disease.
Eggs contain many vitamins and minerals, mainly folate, pantothenic acid, selenium, and iodine. Besides, eggs have choline, a micronutrient that’s vital for many bodily functions.
For instance, choline helps maintain a healthy nervous system. It can also improve memory. Now, two large eggs provide you with almost half the amount of your daily choline requirement. That makes egg a superfood for your brain.
Moreover, eggs are rich in protein, which is why they help the body repair body tissues. Plus, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, and selenium found in eggs will keep your immune system healthy.
Quinoa consists of omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and lysine. Besides, quinoa is a protein because it has all 9 amino acids.
Since quinoa is rich in fiber, it can lower the levels of cholesterol and glucose. Therefore, quinoa prevents heart disease and diabetes.
Moreover, quinoa has high iron levels. Iron is vital for transporting oxygen to our brain cells. Plus, the vitamin B2 in quinoa ensures keeping our brain healthy.
Another perk of making meals with quinoa is that quinoa protects you against cancer, thanks to its flavonoids, kaempferol, and quercetin.
Salmon is one of the best foods for your brain. As we mentioned before, nearly 60 percent of the brain is fat, actually fatty acids. These are mainly docosahexaenoic acids (DHA), which are omega-3 fatty acids. And, the salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
Now, DHA is vital for your brain, but the brain can’t produce DHA on its own. As explained in the Science Line article, “DHA is like a warm winter coat for your brain cells.” In other words, DHA shields your brain cells from injury and minimizes cerebral inflammation. Hence, be sure to eat salmon regularly. Your brain will be thankful.
The omega-3 acids are beneficial for your heart, too. Consuming salmon often may protect you against heart disease.
10. Dark Chocolate
We bet you won’t forget to include this sweet into your eating routine. Dark chocolate is truly a superfood because it has antioxidants, manganese, magnesium, and fiber.
Compared to other types of chocolate, dark chocolate is the healthiest one. The reason for this is flavanol, the ingredient found in dark chocolate and cocoa. The flavanol is proven to benefit brain functions.
For instance, there was a study published in the Frontiers in Nutrition that included dark and white chocolate. A group of young adults consumed dark chocolate (rich in flavanol content) and the other group ate white chocolate (with low levels of flavanol). The results showed that, two hours after the chocolate intake, participants who consumed dark chocolate had much better memory and reaction time than those who ate white chocolate.
Aside from improved brain functions, dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower levels of blood pressure.
Now, reading about all these superfoods may make you hungry. That’s why we have several easy recipes for you. Of course, these meals include only healthy choices we’ve covered so far.
A Healthy Menu That Improves Your Productivity
To increase your productivity in the workplace and try new flavors as well, here are some recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Blueberry smoothie is an ideal choice when you’re not that hungry in the morning, but you need to energize yourself.
Here are all ingredients you’ll need:
- 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen).
- ½ half cup of yogurt.
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar or a sweetener of your choice.
- Add all the ingredients in the blender, blend them for a couple of minutes, until the mixture is smooth.
- You can serve in a glass or in a mug, whichever you prefer. If you’re in a hurry, just pack the smoothie and take it to work.
Salmon and Spinach
This recipe consists of two superfoods that make a delicious combination of flavors.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon of sunflower or vegetable oil.
- 2 skinless salmon fillets.
- 250g of spinach.
- 2 tablespoons of reduced-fat crème fraîche.
- lemon juice (you’ll need half of lemon).
- 2 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley.
In addition, you can use chopped lemon wedges when serving the dish.
- Preheat the oil in a pan.
- Then season the salmon and fry it for 4 minutes each side. You’ll notice that the salmon will soon get a golden color.
- Then, cook the spinach in the hot pan.
- Season it and cover the pan. You don’t have to cook it for too long, one or two minutes would do fine.
- Next is the sauce. You need to heat the crème fraîche at a mild temperature.
- Add lemon juice, parsley, and some salt and pepper.
- Don’t let the sauce boil.
- Finally, the serving. First, place the spinach on the plates, add the salmon on top, and then some sauce. Place the lemon wedges aside.
Instead of dough, you’ll use eggplant slices for this type of pizza.
Here are the ingredients:
- 1 large eggplant.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- salt and pepper.
- 6-7 tablespoons of tomato paste.
- 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes (14 oz.).
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder.
- 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
- 300g of shredded mozzarella or cheese of your choice.
- Cut eggplant into slices. Season with salt, pepper, and some oil. Bake them for 20 minutes at 400°F (200°C).
- Be sure to flip the slices after the first 10 minutes of baking.
- Take the slices out of the oven and add tomato paste on top of them.
- Then, add fire-roasted tomatoes.
- Season the slices with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.
- Finally, add cheese and bake for another 10 minutes, so that cheese can melt evenly.
Healthy Banana Bread
Here’s an idea: make banana bread in the evening and you’ll have a tasty snack you can pack for work.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 3 medium ripe bananas.
- 2 cups of rolled oats.
- 2 large eggs.
- ¼ cup of maple syrup or honey.
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Be sure to grease the loaf pan with cooking spray or simply with some butter.
- Combine all the ingredients and stir them together.
- Pour the mixture into the pan. If you want, you can slice another banana and garnish the batter.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- To check if the bread is done, you can insert a toothpick. If it comes out clean, you don’t need to bake it any longer.
The power of superfoods lies in the fact that they contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other healthy components. Furthermore, that’s why superfoods take your bodily functions to another level, especially brain functions.
When eating superfoods on a daily basis, you’ll be able to think clearly, to focus your attention on work, and to be productive. And let’s be honest, knowing that dark chocolate is among the superfoods gives us more motivation to eat healthily.
So, next time you pack your lunch box for work, think about your choices. Be sure to take some of these productivity boosters with you.