What do tea, coffee, bananas, chocolate, and Brazil nuts have in common?
They all have brain health benefits, and they come from the rainforest.
In celebration of Earth Day, on April 22, let’s explore how to enjoy these foods and help tropical rainforests at the same time.
Why the Rainforest?
Of all the ways to help the earth, learning how we can protect the rainforest is among the most critical.
Deforestation and degradation of tropical forests account for roughly 10 percent of global greenhouse emissions from human activities. The world’s tropical ecosystems are like carbon sinks, taking carbon out of the atmosphere. When they burn or are destroyed, all that carbon is released.
Rainforests also serve as moisture makers, helping to cool the planet and maintain its weather patterns. As they disappear, we will have more drought and food supplies will be affected.
We need healthy rainforests for our own survival.
Our Part: Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
Becoming aware of our consumer choices as they relate to tropical goods and foods, and supporting sustainable practices, is one of the best ways to celebrate Earth Day, every day.
Fortunately, a non-profit organization called the Rainforest Alliance has worked with farmers in tropical areas around the world to certify sustainable practices that meet the rigorous criteria set by the organization.
If you see the Rainforest Alliance logo (pictured on the right), it means that the item was produced in such a way as to increase carbon storage and avoid tropical deforestation, while providing better conditions and wages for workers.
Buying these certified products is one of the simplest ways to help the rainforest, and there are many others.
So, let’s get started…
5 Brain Healthy Foods & Drinks That Help Save the Rainforest
Green, oolong, and black teas are derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant grown in the tropics. They are loaded with brain-healthy polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that provide a host of health benefits.
Green tea, with its lesser caffeine content and greater amount of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and l-theanine, is a particularly brain-healthy choice. EGCG has a calming effect while boosting memory and attention, and l-theanine is found to have a similar effect when consumed in combination with caffeine. These and other polyphenols in tea also have a neuroprotective and neurodegenerative effects.
Boost your brain health and help rainforests by purchasing Rainforest Alliance certified teas. They’re available at most grocery stores.
The caffeine in coffee helps to increase alertness, brighten mood, and sharpen concentration. Yet, caffeine can restrict blood flow to the brain, so it’s important to drink it in moderation. And, since it also can interrupt sleep, it’s best to only have caffeine in the morning.
That said, coffee is loaded with antioxidants, which may be why coffee consumption is associated with protective effects against neurodegenerative issues and cognitive decline.
Look for Rainforest Alliance certified and/or shade-grown coffees. Shade-grown coffee farms have been shown to have much greater biodiversity than sun-grown. Organic and Fair Trade are also great certifications.
Bananas are the perfect, portable snack. They’re delicious, fun to eat, and nutritious. Bananas are a great source of fiber, complex carbohydrates, potassium, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals. As a memory boosting food, potassium helps to support recall and learning in healthy individuals. Conversely, memory loss is a common problem in people who are deficient in potassium.
Most grocers offer Rainforest Alliance certified bananas. Be sure to look for them!
Consuming dark chocolate, rich in cocoa flavanols, can increase cerebral blood flow and be effective at sustaining cognitive performance, leading to improvements in attention, processing speed, and memory. And, according to research, chocolate can support a positive mood.
Chocolate can be that much sweeter by choosing brands that use shade-grown and/or Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa. Organic and Fair Trade cocoa are also excellent choices.
Brazil nuts are grown in the Amazon rainforest and are a treasure trove of brain-healthy nutrients.
Brazil nuts are one of nature’s richest sources of selenium, which may support brain health by acting as an antioxidant. Some evidence indicates that low levels of selenium are correlated with neurogenerative issues.
A polyphenol in Brazil nuts called ellagic acid may have protective and mood-lifting effects on the brain. Brazil nuts are also high in magnesium, a mineral that’s essential to the transmission of signals between the brain and the rest of the body.
In one study evaluating older adults with mental impairment, participants showed improved verbal fluency and mental function by eating one Brazil nut a day for six months.
What’s especially wonderful about Brazil nuts is that eating them directly benefits the Amazon.
Attempts to grow the trees on plantations have largely failed because they’re dependent on a certain type of bee for pollination – these bees only live in forested areas. A robust Brazil nut trade means large areas of the Amazon are left intact and sustainable income goes to local communities.
It’s a win for you and win for the rainforest when you eat Brazil nuts!
Every Choice Matters
We have immense power as consumers, and collectively, our choices can make a huge impact. Just as our food choices make for a healthy brain and body, our consumer choices make for a healthy planet.
At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.
- 7 of the Best Natural Fertility Foods for Women - May 6, 2021
- 5 Simple Mood-Boosting Acts of Service: Feel Happier by Helping Others - April 22, 2021
- Earth Day Observance: Healthy Foods That Help Save the Rainforest - April 20, 2021