Three “smart” brain foods disguised as decadent “vices”

Today, I’m continuing my series about “smart” foods that boost brain health.
Yesterday, I covered fish, berries, herbs and spices, and nuts. And today, I’ll tell you about three more.

Unfortunately, many people wrongly label these three foods (and drinks) as “vices,” when the real science shows they actually work wonders for cognitive function…and overall health.

Let’s continue on to round out the top-seven “smart” foods you should include in your regular diet…

Smart Food #5: Coffee

As you know, I’m an avid coffee drinker. It not only tastes great, but it gives me a kick-start in the morning. Of course, it also benefits my health — especially my heart and cognitive health.

Just consider this…

Two recent studies published in the journal Psychopharmacology found coffee improved attention span and cognitive function in older adults. And a third study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found drinking three to five cups daily for 21 years lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by an astounding 65 percent. (Good thing I finally started drinking it in my 40s!)

Of course, these findings make a lot of sense. Especially when you consider the 90+ Study I discussed on Monday, which found coffee-drinking to be a key lifestyle habit of men and women over 90.

Even if you’re not a regular coffee drinker, you may want to consider drinking a cup before or after an important meeting or event. Especially when you hear the results of this next interesting study…

In a 2014 study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers with Johns Hopkins University followed non-coffee drinkers to see what effect caffeine, as found in coffee, would have on memory. Turns out, men and women who consumed caffeine after a learning session had better recall of the elements of the session 24 hours later.

Apparently, more Americans than ever are drinking coffee on a regular basis. In fact, 64 percent of Americans ages 18 and older reported drinking coffee the day prior. That compares with 62 percent last year. And they reported that this caffeine boost came from either at-home consumption or gourmet beverages. (Imagine that — even after Starbucks closes for the day!)

Smart food No. 6: Dark chocolate

As with coffee, the science on chocolate just keeps getting better and better. And most of it focuses on flavanols, a class of phytochemicals found in cocoa beans that have profound neuroprotective properties for your brain.

Of course, I always recommend you opt for dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao instead of milk chocolate, as it contains the highest percentage of flavanols. It’s also much lower in sugar and added fats.

Last year, a review of clinical trials looked specifically at the cognitive benefits of eating cocoa with flavanols. In one trial in the review, older people who ate cocoa greatly improved attention, mental processing, working memory, and verbal fluency. Plus, people with mild cognitive impairment experienced the most-pronounced benefits.

In another trial in the review, cocoa counter-acted the cognitive impairment following a night of total sleep deprivation in women.

So, go ahead and indulge your chocolate cravings. A small piece of dark chocolate with at least 70 percent or higher cacao content will do wonders for your brain… and your mood!

Smart food No. 7: Alcohol

In February, I told you how the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published a baseless manifesto against any and all alcohol consumption. They decided to toss aside the breadth of science that confirms the many health benefits of moderate drinking. And instead, they focused on the health risks suffered by the small minority of alcohol consumers who drink to excess.

If you’ve been a longtime reader of the Daily Dispatch, you know that I always follow the science. And the science shows that moderate alcohol consumption benefits your health. It even reduces mortality rates. And more recent research is finding that it benefits the brain as well.

For instance, a study from the University of Illinois found that men who’ve had a few drinks are better at solving brain teasers compared to sober men. (I suppose it makes sense that I’ve always enjoyed wine and brain teasers.)

In fact, the moderate drinkers had 40 percent more correct answers compared to non-drinkers. They were also quicker on the uptake, getting through the questions in 11.5 seconds as compared to 15.2 seconds for non-drinkers. The optimal amount of alcohol for improving creative problem-solving was two medium glasses of wine or two pints of beer.

Another recent study in the journal Scientific Reports found that moderate levels of alcohol reduced chronic inflammation and helped the brain clear toxins, including in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

In my view, this toxin-clearing mechanism helps explain why moderate drinkers are twice as likely to reach the age of 85 without dementia when compared to non-drinkers. It also gives some good insight into why men and women in the 90+ Study I referred to earlier are more likely to imbibe, as I explained on Monday.

So, go ahead and enjoy the seven “smart” foods (and drinks) as part of a balanced diet. You can also find some of their active ingredients in your favorite dietary supplements. (You can check out my personal favorites by perusing the “Shop” tab on

In addition, to learn more about these kinds of simple strategies for staying vibrant, youthful, and healthy well into your 70s, 80s, and beyond — check out my brand-new protocol, The Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Outsmarting “Old Age.” If you’d like to be one of the first classes of scholars to enroll, or if you’d just like to learn more, simply click here.



“7 Foods That Make You Smarter,” Newsmax ( 3/26/2018

Caffeine has positive effect on memory, Johns Hopkins researchers say,” HUB ( 1/12/2014