Dr. Uma Naidoo, a psychiatrist and nutrition expert trained at Harvard, has dedicated over two decades to studying brain-boosting foods. In an interview with Business Insider, the Indian-origin specialist shared practical tips on improving brain health through affordable dietary choices.

Dr. Naidoo emphasizes the interconnectedness of the brain and gut, highlighting how food choices can significantly impact mood and mental health. She advocates for incorporating simple, readily available ingredients like leafy greens and herbs into daily meals to enhance cognitive function without breaking the bank.

Here are Dr. Naidoo’s top recommendations for foods that support brain health:

Yogurt and cottage cheese: These probiotic-rich foods contain beneficial bacteria that support gut health, influencing neurotransmitter production such as serotonin, crucial for mental well-being. Additionally, they are excellent sources of protein, promoting satiety.

Nuts and berries: High in fiber and antioxidants, nuts and berries help maintain digestive health and protect against oxidative stress. Dr. Naidoo advises caution with pre-made granola due to potential high sugar content, which can negatively impact mental health.

Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are packed with nutrients like Vitamin K and folate, essential for cell division and overall health. Dr. Naidoo recommends incorporating microgreens such as cress and arugula for added nutritional benefits.

Dark chocolate: Rich in flavanols, dark chocolate supports heart health and cognitive function. Dr. Naidoo suggests opting for varieties low in sugar to maximize health benefits.

Fresh herbs: Basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, and thyme are rich in antioxidants that protect brain cells from oxidative stress. Beyond flavor enhancement, these herbs contribute to overall brain health.

By incorporating these accessible and nutritious foods into your diet, Dr. Naidoo suggests you can optimize brain health and support overall well-being effectively.