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My Top 3 Meals for Brain Wellness

Updated: Apr 28

Simple, delicious ingredients to support your brain

By Austin Perlmutter, MD



Having a brain that works well feels amazing. That’s why I wake up each day and structure my day around decisions that will help support my brain wellness today and for the rest of my life. Among the most important ways we can vote for brain health each day is choosing the right foods (and avoiding the wrong ones!). In this article, I’m sharing 3 favorite meals I consistently eat to support my brain wellness.

1.  Our favorite breakfast

Breakfast is always a top meal of the day for me. Yet most breakfast foods are packed with added sugar and or simple carbohydrates which do my brain no favors. Instead, I focus on eating a combination of fats, fiber and protein to keep me full, help regulate my blood sugar and provide my gut and brain with the nutrients they need to have a great day. There are tons of variants on what that meal can look like, but generally it includes greens like sauteed spinach or kale, sometimes grilled or sauteed squashes, avocados (whenever we have them and they’re ripe) and sometimes black beans, along with pastured whole eggs (for vegans, tempeh works great here too!). I top all this with extra-virgin olive oil and cracked black pepper, along with nutritional yeast.

2. The Brain-Boosting Super Salad

One of the tastiest, easiest and most satisfying meals can be a salad that combines tons of brain-boosting ingredients, and begins with a big base of leafy greens (eating more of these is linked to better brain health). We start with a big bowl of mixed greens/spinach/kale/arugula/romaine (whatever we have available) and add in nuts and seeds (walnuts are great, pumpkin seeds are a favorite!), green apple slices, blueberries, red onion slices, bell pepper slices, and avocado. For additional protein, some options are garbanzo beans, black beans, tempeh, chicken, salmon, mackerel, or sardines. Then we top it with lots of extra-virgin olive oil and a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s topped with fresh cracked black pepper for extra flavor and polyphenols.

3. Our go-to dinner: Salmon with greens/salad and quinoa.

Salmon is consistently at the top of the list when it comes to brain-supporting foods. Why? It’s packed with omega-3 fats, and relatively low in contaminants like mercury. In a just-published review, fish consumption was linked with better brain function. Generally, we’ll thaw our salmon an hour before cooking, dry the fillets and then bake them in the oven with a bit of olive oil (skin side down) with mustard or salt and pepper on top. It pairs great with roasted veggies, sauteed broccolini or a simple side salad, as well as quinoa (we do this in the Instant pot). Lastly, we use extra-virgin olive oil as a drizzle on top. Note: we prefer wild sockeye salmon from Alaska when possible, for nutrient content and sustainability reasons, but you can do this meal with any fish!

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Just listening to the food revolution summit about gut and brain health. They said we are running out of fish in the ocean (2nd year no salmon fishing in Ca due to severe shortage), and that most fish DO contain high levels of heavy metals and should be avoided. They recommend getting omega 3s from algae sources, chia, flax and hemp.

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