What are your crutches? Making inappropriate jokes in awkward situations? Shopping your way out of a crappy breakup? Maybe even a cheeky joint once in a while to combat stress?
We’ve all got ‘em. One we’ve probably all got in common is coffee. This week we’re getting into the science behind it; and why we might want to consider switching this particular crutch to green tea to do the best we can for our brains.
STIMULATION AND RELAXATION? REACH FOR THE GREEN.
Increase brain function in the short and long-term with green tea.
We’re all guilty of relying on a coffee hit to combat an energy crash or subsidise a late night netflix binge, but next time you’re stifling a yawn behind your monitor - give green tea a bash.
It stimulates your brain function in a similar way to coffee, but also reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation in the long run.
Green Tea: The Dichotomy
That’s potentially the most thrilling title ever written for a hot beverage. Anyway, turns out it is possible to consume something both stimulating and relaxing.
Green tea's magic? It contains both caffeine and the amino acid, L-theanine, which can cross the blood-brain barrier to directly affect your brain cells.
Caffeine promotes alertness, performance, memory and focus, while L-theanine increases the activity of neurotransmitter GABA, which triggers relaxation and a reduction in anxiety.
Need more convincing?
Green tea is also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that may protect against mental decline as we age and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
But… the taste of green tea…
I know, I know. It does have a swampy energy that can be difficult to get over. But, remember how gross your first taste of coffee was? If you can get over that, it’s surely worth persevering.
You can also add it to your pantry, instead of your mug (recipe inspo below). Otherwise, there are handy L-theanine supplementsthat will allow you to continue your coffee habit, and protect your brain in the long run.
FOR THE NERDY: Green tea brain gains [Source: PubMed]
Want More of This? Get Some Brain Food Every Week.
BRAIN FOOD - GREEN TEA ROASTED SALMON WITH MANGO SALAD
If anyone can get you on the green tea bandwagon, surely it’s the pukka-meister himself, Jamie Oliver. Although simple enough to whip up on a weeknight, this summery dinner (from the Everyday Superfood book) is also a fairly impressive crowd-pleaser if you’ve got to feed a few people at the weekend too.
Why is it good for my brain?
Well, green tea is in there, obvs (see above for all the good brain stuff there). Also, salmon provides your brain with essential DHA omega-3 fatty acids, and mangois high in vitamin C and B6, which help support neurological function and help fight depression.
What you’ll need:brown rice, salmon tail, green tea, sesame oil, garlic, carrot, cucumber, tomato, chicory, mango, lime, soy sauce, red chilli, ginger, sesame seeds, cress (You can click the button below to automatically add all these to your usual food shop. 🙌)
Cooking time:35 minutes
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cook and drain the rice.
Meanwhile, score the salmon skin 1cm deep at 2cm intervals and place in a snug-fitting baking dish.
Season with salt, pepper and the green tea, then rub all over with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, getting it well into the cuts. Peel and finely slice the garlic, then poke a slice into each cut.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through.
Prepare all your salad veg, chopping everything into bite-sized chunks or slices.
Chop up the mango and put it in a bowl with all the veg. Squeeze all the juice out of the mango centre into a separate bowl, then squeeze in the lime juice and season to taste with soy sauce to make a dressing.
Deseed, finely chop and add the chilli to the dressing, then toss with the veg and mango.
Peel and matchstick the ginger and fry on a medium heat with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and the sesame seeds for 2 minutes, tossing regularly. Then stir in the rice and season.
Scatter the cress over the salad, and serve with the salmon and rice.
Click here for the original recipe. [jamieoliver.com]
WHAT WE LOVE THIS WEEK
Watch: Is your commute actually killing you?A quick dive into the science behind everyone’s favourite topic for a morning moan. [4 mins of VOX on youtube]
Read: What do the longest-living people in the world have in common? Hint: it isn’t spending hours in the gym, It’s much easier. Here’s why humans need more than exercise. [guardian]
Listen: A foodie conversation about this week’s recipe author, Jamie Oliver and his impact on food cultureover the last 20 years. (Did that make anyone else feel really old?) [player.fm]
On food, Michael Pollan once famously said “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
So, on that note, about living with better sustained brain health, inspired by the suggested links above, and of course, hard science, I’m gonna sign off with this message:
“Do exercise. Not too much. Mostly walk” - click here to retweet this.
See you next week
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