Keep reading to see what Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND—an award-winning nutrition expert and bestselling author of Diabetes: Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook—suggests adding to your cart in the name of brain health.
7 brain-boosting Trader Joe's foods
1. Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
“I always stock up on fresh and frozen blueberries at Trader Joe’s, as they’re loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals, including four essential nutrients and phytonutrients like fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K,” Amidor says. "Not only are they sweet and nutritious, but they’re also known to improve cognitive performance and positively influence brain function. In fact, a recent study found that the equivalent of a half cup of fresh blueberries per day may help protect against cognitive decline." Amidor also underscores the importance of recognizing that frozen options work just as well to keep your mind sharp. She suggests enjoying them solo or “as a robust snack with a handful of nuts, yogurt, granola, peanut or almond butter toast, cheese, or a protein bar.” How about all of the above?
2. Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
Salmon and other types of fatty fish are revered for their brain health benefits. “The EPA and DHA omega-3 fats in salmon boost brain development and improve its function,” Amidor says. “Both EPA and DHA are found in all cells of the body and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory functions.” Per a June 2022 study, the unfortunate truth is that most Americans don’t get enough of these all-important omegas, so adding more salmon into your meal rotation (ideally two servings a week) is an easy way to up your intake. “Trader Joe's sells salmon in the refrigerator case and in the frozen case, so choose the one that best fits your needs.”
3. Large Grade-A Organic Free Range Eggs
Eggs are among the top dietary sources of choline, an essential nutrient associated with stronger memory performance and resistance to cognitive decline. Moreover, Amidor adds that choline “may have a brain-protective effect in folks with Alzheimer's disease, and it’s especially important during pregnancy for both mom and baby because it helps support healthy brain growth and helps protect against neural tube defects.” Luckily, Trader Joe’s stocks a variety of eggs—think brown, white, cage-free, and so on—so make sure to buy a dozen on your next haul. (Bonus points go to those who whip up Amidor’s recipe for egg muffins with spinach and feta.)
4. Raw California Premium Walnut Halves
If you’re concerned about cognitive decline due to aging, you’ll want to add raw walnuts to your snack bin, stat. “The polyphenols, tocopherols and polyunsaturated fats found in walnuts may be what’s helping to protect against the detrimental effects of aging,” Amidor explains. She also cites a March 2015 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging in which “researchers found that eating walnuts may improve performance on cognitive function tests, including tests for memory, concentration, and information-processing speed in adults.”
5. Raw Pumpkin Seeds
While you’re navigating the nuts section at Trader Joe’s, Amidor advises grabbing a bag of unsalted pumpkin seeds for their bevy of brain-boosting nutrients. “They provide magnesium, which is involved in healthy brain development and can improve your memory and learning, as well as zinc, which is also involved in healthy brain function,” says Amidor, also noting that they’re a good source of ALA omega-3s.
6. Teeny Tiny Avocados
Trader Joe’s offers several ways to get your avocado fix, including by the bag and via their Organic Chunky Homestyle Guacamole. No matter which route you take, know that you’ll get a generous dose of nutrients that can help your brain stay healthy. “These include omega-3s, numerous B vitamins, and vitamins C and E, which are antioxidants,” Amidor explains. To flex your culinary creativity *and* double down on brain-boosting benefits, she recommends making her deliciously creamy avocado egg salad stuffed pita.
7. Organic Dark Chocolate Bar 73% Cacao
Dessert, anyone? Amidor cites research showing that epicatechin—which is found in tea, apples, and berries, but also cocoa/dark chocolate—“can help enhance cognitive function, reduce the risk of dementia, and improve performance on memory activities.” (For reference, cacao is raw whereas cocoa is roasted, though both forms contain this brain-boosting, anti-inflammatory polyphenol.) On the off chance you forget to add this treat to your Trader Joe’s grocery list, you should be able to spot a variety of dark chocolate bars near the checkout.
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