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Is Dark Chocolate Really Brain Food?

Patricia Faust September 2022

Brain Health Expert: Patricia Faust

Our three-pound brain is a very demanding organ. 20% of blood, carbohydrates, and oxygen generated from each heartbeat go directly to the brain.

This organ is an energy cannibal. It does not produce its own energy to function, so it is dependent on getting energy from the carbohydrates sent to it. How do you keep up with those demands? Nutrition and exercise play critical roles in keeping our brains energized. But we have to make sure that we are sending the right nutrients to the brain for high functioning efficiency.

“Omega 3s are critical for high end brain function.”

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Antioxidants:

The brain is very vulnerable to oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radicals are random Oxygen molecules that do great damage to all our internal organs, skin, but especially the brain. Antioxidants are necessary to neutralize free radicals.

The brain is 60% fat; it is the fattiest organ in our body. Omega 3 fatty acids are fats that need to be ingested to fulfill the fat requirement of the brain. Omega 3 fatty acids protect brain cell integrity and support the neural pathways. Neural pathways are lined with fat and this fat aids in the communication function in the brain. Omega 3s are critical for high end brain function.

What Kind Of Foods Supply The Nutrients That Our Brain Needs?

  • Dark-colored fruit like blueberries and pomegranates are super antioxidants and protect the brain from free radical damage.
  • Cold water fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and herring provide Omega 3 fatty acids that the brain needs for functioning.
  • Avocados have monosaturated fats that contribute to healthy blood flow.
  • Nuts, seeds, and whole grains provide a good source of vitamin E – a strong antioxidant.
  • Beans can stabilize glucose levels – the source of energy for the brain.
  • Dark chocolate (yum) also contains antioxidants important for brain cell integrity.


These are a few foods that supply the nutrients the brain requires for optimal functioning. What happens if you don’t like fish? There are supplements available to fill the gap in nutritional deficiencies. However, the body likes natural food better.

“The MIND diet is held as the standard for brain health.”

Your body can process food sources and utilize what it needs. Supplements may not be used properly, cause interactions with medications, or might not be enough or too much of the active ingredient for effective results. Eating with a brain-healthy diet in mind will ensure that you get what your brain needs.

The MIND diet is held as the standard for brain health. The focus on fruits and vegetables, fish, little red meat, olive oil, whole grains, beets and nuts are just what our brain needs to stay healthy.

Want Brain Food?:

Here are a few brain-healthy cookbooks where you can find brain-healthy recipes:

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About the Author:

Patricia Faust is a gerontologist specializing in the issues of brain aging, brain health, brain function and dementia. She has a Masters in Gerontological Studies degree from Miami University in Oxford Ohio. Patricia is certified as a brain health coach and received a certification in Neuroscience and Wellness through Dr. Sarah McKay and the Neuroscience Academy. My Boomer Brain, founded in 2015, is the vehicle that Patricia utilizes to teach, coach and consult about brain aging, brain health and brain function. Her newsletter, My Boomer Brain, has international readers from South Africa, Australia, throughout Europe and Canada. She has also been a frequent guest on Medicare Moment on WMKV and Cincy Lifestyles on WCPO.