Mental health and cognition

According to Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century statesman and scientist, a vegetarian diet results in: “greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension.”

Folic acid (found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, chick peas, yeast extract and brown rice) can boost brain power. Vegans tend to get more folic acid as they eat more fruits, cereals, pulses and leafy green vegetables.

Fish is promoted as brain food – if that were true, vegans would fail at school, university and work. They don’t! The British Medical Journal provides more weighty evidence showing that intelligent children are more likely to become vegetarians or vegans later in life. This might explain why people with a higher IQ are healthier: vegetarians generally suffer less heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, various cancers, bowel disorders, gallstones, kidney stones and osteoporosis! 

A vegan diet that’s naturally high in antioxidants, fibre and low in saturated fats also seems to be able to lower the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. People who have healthy plant-based diets, especially in mid-life, tend to have a much lower risk – up to 90 per cent lower! - of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

And don’t forget to add berries to your diet as a staple – berries offer an extra boost and seem to be able to protect your nervous system more than other foods. They even lower your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease!

Read more about diet and cognitive health and see our Nutrition News on the topic.

See our fact sheet Simple Tips to Sharpen Wits

Find out what you need to eat each day here.