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Top 5 Brain Foods

Posted on February 22, 2011 | in Dental Care | by

You wouldn’t immediately think coffee or sugar belong on the list, but according to, these are the Top 5 brain foods to pump up your mental muscle:

  • Caffeine
  • Sugar (read the article)
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Blueberries

Although mentioned on the top 5 list of brain foods, the article goes on to mention both caffeine and sugar can also be detrimental to our well-being if we consume too much at one time. Excess sugar is wasted, often leaves us sluggish, leads to more air in the spare tire, and can even negatively impair our memory. Too much caffeine can leave us jittery and unfocused – so why are these 2 foods included in the top 5 list of brain foods?

According to the article, caffeine can help us focus, and sugar can is a fuel source for our brains. What the article doesn’t mention is the difference between sugars, and how our bodies break down simple and complex sugars.

According to, an important characteristic of sugars and starches is the glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate is digested, enters the bloodstream, and raises the blood-sugar level. Foods with a low glycemic index enter the bloodstream slowly and trigger the insulin response less quickly, contributing to a steadier blood-sugar level and, consequently, a steadier mood. On the other hand, foods with a high glycemic index enter the bloodstream quickly and jolt the insulin response into action, quickly leading to large blood-sugar swings — from high to low – which can cause irritability, anxiety, and jitteriness. When you eat a variety of carbohydrates together at a meal, the glycemic index is not as important. The effect of one food offsets that of another. Here’s how different kinds of carbohydrates rank from lowest to highest in glycemic index:

  1. legumes
  2. dairy products
  3. vegetables
  4. fruits
  5. whole grains
  6. refined sugars and grains

We could all benefit from adding more brain food to our diets, but if we’re camping out at the local coffee stop or taking down candy bars two at a time, maybe it’s time for an intervention!

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+Chris Barnard is Managing Editor of, a patient-centric Social Dental Network blog dedicated to enabling the digital dental health conversation - and the eradication of the cavity creeps.

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