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20 Foods That Make You Smarter

Here are some healthy, environmentally friendly ways to kick-start your brain.

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Try sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and tahini (a tangy, nutty sesame butter that tastes great in replacement of mayo and salad dressing). Seeds contain a lot of protein, beneficial fat, and vitamin E, as well as stress-fighting antioxidants and important brain-boosting minerals like magnesium.

Green it: Again, just look for organic and try to avoid the highly-seasoned, processed options. In general, things like fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts are pretty low-impact, environmentally speaking, in comparison to meats and cheeses.

6. Coffee

Thine eyes do not deceive (even if you are in the midst of a sugar crash). Coffee is good for your brain . Did you know coffee actually contains fiber? That’s going to help your cardiovascular system. Coffee also exerts some noted benefit to your brain in addition to providing you with a detectable energy boost.

The trick is not to have more than a few cups. But you can safely enjoy 2-4 cups daily – we are talking about supercharging here. Just please don’t go ruining a good thing by loading it up with sugar! Espresso beans are actually a phenomenally healthy snack, by the way.

Green it: brew yourself some fair-trade organic coffee to benefit both the planet and the workers who grow your beans. Use a thermos instead of a throwaway cup.

7. Oatmeal

Nature’s scrub brush is one of the best foods for cardiovascular health, which translates to brain health. Additionally, oatmeal is packed with fiber, a reasonable amount of protein, and even a small amount of Omega-3’s. It’s a good grain that will sustain you throughout the morning so you aren’t prone to irritability or an energy crash.

Green it: the healthiest oatmeal is the real, steel-cut deal. Steer clear of those little microwavable packets that are loaded with sugar. All that packaging isn’t very green.

8. Beans

One more for carb-lovers. (The brain uses about 20% of your carbohydrate intake and it likes a consistent supply.) Beans are truly an amazing food that is sadly overlooked. They’re humble, but very smart. Not only are they loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein, they’re ridiculously cheap. An entire bag of beans usually costs only a few dollars and will provide many meals. Beans provide a steady, slow release of glucose to your brain – which means energy all day without the sugar crash. Don’t go eating a whole platter of frijoles, though – just 1/4 of a cup is fine.

Green it: look for heirloom beans that are raised sustainably, like those from Rancho Gordo.

9. Pomegranate

Opt for the fruit over the juice so you get more fiber. Pomegranates contain blueberry-like levels of antioxidants, which are essential for a healthy brain . Your brain is the first organ to feel the effects of stress, so anything you can do to offset stress is a smart choice.

Green it: pomegranates are seasonal and not generally local for most of us, so enjoy sparingly and rely on other berries like acai, grapes and cherries when you can’t get this fruit.

10. Brown Rice

Brown rice is a low-glycemic complex carbohydrate that is excellent for people sensitive to gluten who still want to maintain cardiovascular health. The better your circulation, the sharper your brain .

Green it: don’t buy the excessively-packaged "boil in a bag" rice packets. Just make up a big batch of brown rice in a rice cooker on Sunday so you have it on hand for easy lunches all week.

11. Tea