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    10 Foods You Should Eat More Of If Your Memory Sucks

    Step up your memory game.

    Your memory is kind of important — it helps you define who you are.

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    It’s also what reminds you of that one bad date you went on two years ago with that girl who’s now sitting right over there on the bus. But without your memory, you wouldn’t be able to learn from your past mistakes (i.e. make better dating decisions).

    Part of keeping your memory sharp involves eating foods that are good for brain function — and avoiding ones that are super processed.

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    “If you’re feeding your body junk, you will build a brain on junk,” Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author of Eat Your Way To Happiness, tells BuzzFeed Health. “The research overwhelmingly shows that people who eat highly processed foods, lots of saturated fat… have significantly reduced brain function — their brains are even smaller.”

    Too much saturated fat (like the kind found in red meat and dairy) may contribute to the plaque that can build up in your blood vessels. Over time, this causes inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. And Somer says that that the nitrates (food preservatives) found in processed meats can be particularly damaging in this way.

    To make this easy, here are 10 foods and drinks that can actually boost your memory.

    Granted, most of these aren't exactly quick fixes. But over time, they can boost your brain health and reduce your risk of memory loss.

    1. Coffee

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    This is the the only one on the list that can actually work pretty much immediately. More energy = higher attention = better memory. That’s according to Dr. Majid Fotuhi, PhD, Chief Medical Officer of Neurocore Brain Performance Center, who tells BuzzFeed Health that drinking a cup of coffee or tea can improve your memory, even if only temporarily.

    2. Milk

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    As long as it’s fortified with vitamin D, that is. This important vitamin provides us with energy and the heightened attention we'll need to remember things more efficiently. It's often called the “sunshine” vitamin because exposure to the sun's UVB rays is necessary for producing it in the skin.

    But let’s assume you’re outside soaking up the sun every day. Fotuhi says that over time, vitamin D-fortified milk can help improve overall brain function, including memory. Both whole and reduced-fat milk can be fortified with vitamin D. Keep in mind when choosing which to drink that having a balance of saturated and unsaturated fats is optimal for health. You can learn more about healthy fats here.

    3. Fatty Fish

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    Of all the memory-boosting foods, Fotuhi and Somer both agree that those with DHA are the best. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in certain fish — such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and anchovies — and the brain prefers it over other fats because it can be used to build cells capable of communicating more effectively, Somer says. Without it, the brain will source fat from other parts of the body — fats that aren't as good.

    But wait, there’s more! Fotuhi says DHA also increases oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain (20 percent of the oxygen we consume is used in the brain), and it reduces inflammation and levels of beta-amyloid — clumps of protein that have been associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Altogether, this builds a bigger and healthier brain.

    Citing a study on older adults, Fotuhi says people who eat enough DHAs every week (two fatty fish meals) for three months will see improvements in their memory six months later. Just don’t fry the fish, Somer says, because the oil you use will offset the benefits. Broil, bake, or poach it instead.

    4. Olive Oil

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    While it hasn’t been shown to improve memory, Somer says the monounsaturated fats in olive oil can improve your cholesterol, which reduces your chance of memory loss.

    5. Dark leafy greens

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    Dark leafy greens are high in folate and vitamin B12, which work together to maintain healthy nerve cells, Fotuhi says.

    Spinach, kale, chard, and collard greens should be your go-to. Basically, the darker the better, says Somer. They’re way more nutrient-rich than other leafy greens like iceberg lettuce, which she calls “just crunchy water.” Dark leafy greens are also high in carotenoids like lutein and xanthine, which act like antioxidants (we’ll get into those later) to cross the blood brain barrier (a selectively impermeable substance that protects the brain) and improve cognition.

    To get the fullest effect from these greens, try sautéing them with some olive oil. “We know that if you add a little bit of fat to spinach or almost any other vegetable, it increases the absorption of all the good nutrients in there,” she says. Or, if you’re eating a sandwich, add avocado to it — they’re another good source for monounsaturated fat.

    6. Eggs

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    These also have lots of folate and B12, Fotuhi says. Just be aware of how you cook them; boiling or cooking with olive oil is probably best.

    7. Legumes

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    Like kidney beans, lima beans, black beans, and lentils. All of these are high in folate, though Somer says there’s not nearly as much as you’d find in dark leafy veggies.

    8. Fruits, but specifically berries.

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    Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, all berries. Somer says these rank highest on the ORAC scale, which rates the levels of antioxidants foods have. Antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, work to protect the brain's cell membranes and our bodies' internal organs from free radicals, which can come from the air we breathe and even our own internal processes.

    But you basiclally can't go wrong with colorful fruit and vegetables. Carotenoids also have antioxidant capabilities, and they can be found in watermelon (lycopene) and plums (carotene). “There’s not a lot of black-and-white issues in nutrition, but there is one, and that is the more colorful fruits and vegetables you eat, the better off you are,” Somer says

    9. Nuts

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    A good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, Somer says “this vitamin shows promise in protecting white matter in the brain, which is associated with improved memory.” It’s also a “major antioxidant for the fatty areas of the brain, like the cell membranes,” which are vulnerable to oxidative damage.

    While all nuts are full of vitamin E, walnuts might be the best, nutritionist Rania Batayneh, author of The One One One Diet, tells BuzzFeed Health. They have higher levels of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) — another omega-3 fatty acid.

    10. Turmeric

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    You may know turmeric as the spice that gives your favorite curry its orangish color, but the curcumin inside is also the only food that’s been shown to “melt away” those ominous beta-amyloid plaques associated with cognitive diseases, Fotuhi says. It’s absorbed best when cooked with pepper or some kind of fat, like that from chicken.

    The key here, Somer says, is to be mindful of the food you're cooking the spice with. You can't just throw some turmeric on a burger and expect to see results — it's more about incorporating these foods into a balanced, minimally processed diet, and sticking with it. That's how healthy brains are made.