Earlier this week I had the opportunity to host a “Better Brain Function” Workshop at a tech company in Seattle.
The theme was all about eating your way to better brain health through delicious foods, recipes and other tips to optimize cognitive function and overall health.
This topic is an extremely important one to cover in my book — especially with the rate of brain fog, anxiety, depression and neurodegenerative disorders steadily climbing (and combined currently impact more than 60 million Americans).
Lucky for us — according to Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist recognized internationally as a leader in the field of neurological research and disorders — Your food choices are the most influential variable you can control that relates to the health, vitality, and functionality of your precious brain.
And these foods are anything but bland and boring, especially AVOCADO (which is one of my fave foods, incase it wasn’t already obvious ;)).
Not only are avocados creamy, rich, versatile and elevate just about any dish (tacos, salads, grain bowls, eggs, burgers, etc.) but they are a serious brain-boosting, mood-lifting, hormone-balancing superfood. Let’s break down a few of their MANY benefits (as well as the tastiest way to eat them).
HEALTH + BRAIN-BOOSTING BENEFITS OF AVOCADO
+ Balances Hormones & Boosts Reproductive Systems
Avocados are rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that improves memory and brain activity. These fatty acids are used to create neurotransmitters and hormones that regulate our central nervous system functions, boost our reproductive systems and fertility, elevate our moods (and combat anxiety and depression) and balance our hormones in general.
+ Lowers Depression & Anxiety + Elevates Mood
Research has found the monounsaturated fatty acids in avocado help to lower depression, anxiety and other mental disorder risks because they facilitate proper thought-processing and stress-reduction mechanisms happening within the brain.
+ Improves Insulin Sensitivity & Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
While most of us know this is good for weight loss and preventing obesity, it’s also excellent news for our brain. In fact research is finding high insulin levels and insulin-resistance due to high sugar intake as the #1 contributor to Alzheimer dementia and other cognitive dysfunction.
+ Optimizes Digestion & Gut Health
Avocados are an amazing source of dietary fiber, which helps to stabilize blood sugar levels (see above), facilitate elimination of waste and toxins and boost good gut bacteria. The fat in the avocado also helps with nutrient absorption (especially of fat soluble vitamins A, E & K) and nourishes the lining of our guts.
+ Lowers Inflammation and Boosts Cognitive Function
Avocados are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which neutralize brain cell-damaging and inflammation-causing free radicals. They’re also rich in Vitamin C, which plays an important role in brain and nerve cell development, Vitamin K, which regulates calcium in the brain (FYI disregulated calcium has been correlated with Alzheimer’s) and potassium, which maintains fluid balance to keep your brain functioning optimally.
While guacamole is just about the tastiest way to consume avocados (IMO), I skipped the traditional route and opted to take this recipe to another health + brain-boosting level with the addition of kale, which contains a ton of important antioxidants and vitamins (listed above), along with iron, which allows oxygen to be carried throughout your body and to your brain.
I love serving it with these jicama dipping “fries” which are not only a tasty vehicle for this guac, but super brain-boosting due to their abundance of prebiotic fiber. This prebiotic fiber feeds a group of bacteria that control the rate of gene expression in the brain, including the secretion of BDNF, a very important signal that increases neural connections.
If you’re feeling a bit skeptical at this point (i.e. this sounds WAY too healthy to be good) I served this snack at the workshop this week, and let’s just say people were raving.
It also literally takes 10 minutes to make, perfect when you need a quick, satisfying snack or to make for a party/entertaining (i.e. so you can spend more time with the people you love vs. working yourself hard in the kitchen).
Bottomline this is THE easy dish to make when you want something that tastes good and makes you FEEL GOOD too.
Superfood Guacamole + Jicama Dipping "Fries"
This easy and delicious superfood guacamole contains serious brain-boosting, mood-lifting & hormone-balancing ingredients. Pair with Jicama "Fries" for the perfect, gut-healthy dipping vehicle.
For the guac:
- 1 -2 cups curly green kale, de-stemmed and chopped into small pieces
- 4 ripe avocados
- ½ cup diced onion
- ¼ cup diced cilantro
- 1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- juice of 1 lime
- optional black pepper or chile flakes
For the jicama dipping fries:
- 1 medium-sized jicama, peeled and sliced into sticks
- juice of ½ lime
- sea salt and chili powder to sprinkle, approximately ¼ - ½ tsp of each
- Place a steamer basket into a fitted pot with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the kale, cover and steam until the kale turns very vibrantly green, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the kale and place it on kitchen towels and pat it dry. Set aside to let chill, then chop very finely before adding to guac.
- While kale is cooking/chilling, place the rest of the guac ingredients together in a large bowl, mashing and folding with a fork until well combined. Add in kale once ready.
- For the jicama dipping "fries" simply peel and chop lengthwise into "fry-size" pieces. Drizzle with the lime juice, sea salt and chili powder, then use to dip in the guac.