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Brain health recipes

Rob Hobson
Article written by Rob Hobson

Date published 16 July 2019

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Your brain is your body's most complex organ. Not only is it important to nourish it with healthy foods so it can function well, but some foods may even improve your brain health. These recipes are as healthy as they are delicious.

Grilled salmon with lime butter & beetroot and kale slaw

Serves: 4

460 calories per serving

Salmon, like other oily fish, is a rich source of the essential omega 3 fatty acids 'EPA' and 'DHA'. These fatty acids must be obtained from the diet as they cannot be made in the body. Vascular Oily fish can help to reduce levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol, which in turn may help to protect against vascular dementia. It is thought that vascular dementia is caused when cholesterol clogged arteries can't deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the brain.

For the salmon

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • ½ clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ lime, juiced
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Lime rind, grated

For the beetroot slaw

  • 50g cashew nuts, toasted and crushed
  • 2 beetroots, peeled and grated
  • 100g curly kale, stalks cut away and very finely shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 eating apple, grated
  • ½ red onion finely sliced
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt, to season
  • Black pepper, to season


  1. Pre-heat the grill on a medium heat. Cook the salmon for 10 - 12 minutes.
  2. Whilst the salmon is cooking, prepare the slaw by adding all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Once cooked, remove the salmon and set to one side.
  4. To make the lime butter, combine the garlic, lime juice, butter, salt and pepper in a little dish and mix well with a fork.
  5. Serve the salmon with a ¼ of the butter mix, beetroot slaw and lime rind to garnish.

Red rice, spinach and feta salad

Serves: 4

400 calories per serving

A portion of wholegrain red rice provides an excellent source of fibre-rich complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrate foods are converted to glucose in the body, providing energy to all cells including those of the brain. Moreover, complex carbohydrates are broken down slowly, meaning that they provide a steady release of glucose, helping to keep you mentally alert throughout the day.

For the salad

  • 200g red rice (dried weight)
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 150g feta cheese
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 100g baby spinach, sliced
  • 20g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 80g pomegranate arils

For the dressing

  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, to season
  • Pepper, to season


  1. Place the red rice in a pan of boiling water and cook for about 20 minutes until tender.
  2. In a small saucepan, toast the pine nuts for a few minutes.
  3. Once cooked, drain the rice and cool under cold running water.
  4. Place the rice in a large bowl with the other salad ingredients and mix.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing.
  6. Serve each bowl of rice with a helping of the dressing.

Pink grapefruit, avocado and prawn salad

Serves: 2

420 calories per serving

Avocados are a rich source of folate, vitamin E, potassium and monounsaturated (good) fats. These nutrients have been linked to a reduction in 'bad' LDL cholesterol, as well as maintaining healthy blood pressure. Both of factors will help to reduce the likelihood of having a stroke, which is a major risk factor for dementia.

For the salad

  1. 1 pink grapefruit, peeled, pitted and cut into segments
  2. 1 avocado, peeled, stoned and cut into slices
  3. 320g cooked king prawns
  4. ¼ red onion, finely sliced
  5. ½ red chilli, finely sliced
  6. Mint
  7. Coriander

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ginger, finely chopped


  1. Add the salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl
  3. Serve each portion of salad with a generous helping of the dressing, poured over the salad

Rosemary and chilli spiced walnuts

Serves: 4

240 calories per serving

Nuts are a good source of vitamin E and the omega 3 fatty acid, ALA. Nuts make a healthy addition to the diet as they are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Moreover, studies have shown that walnuts may help to improve memory and concentration, adding to the research surrounding their positive effect on reducing cognitive impairment and overall brain health.


  • 120g whole walnuts
  • 2tsp finely chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2tbsp honey
  • 1tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Salt, to season


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, add the walnuts with the rosemary, oil, honey and chilli flakes and combine well.
  3. In a single layer, spread the walnut mix across a lined baking tray.
  4. Bake the walnuts for about 6-8 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  5. Remove the walnuts and leave to cool completely before serving.

Courgette linguini with puttanesca sauce

Serves: 2

308 calories per serving

Maintaining a healthy body weight is likely to reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease both of which put you at greater risk of dementia. This low-calorie dish is inspired by the Mediterranean and includes tomatoes and olive oil, which form a key part of this diet. Research suggests the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing problems with memory and thinking.


  • 4 large courgettes, peeled
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 canned anchovies, rinsed and chopped
  • ½ red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp capers, rinsed
  • 40g black olives, stoned and roughly chopped
  • 100ml passata
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 10g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


  1. Set a large pan of water on the hob to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep-sided frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and add the garlic. Cook very gently so as not to burn or discolour the garlic.
  3. Add the anchovies to the pan with the garlic and stir until they dissolve.
  4. Add the chilli, olives and capers, cooking for 1 minute.
  5. Add the passata and puree. Cook for another 5 minutes before removing from the heat and stir in the parsley.
  6. Place the courgette linguini in the pan of water. Boil for 30 seconds and drain.
  7. Serve the sauce on top of the courgette linguini.

Blueberry and beetroot smoothie

Serves: 1

100 calories per serving

Blueberries are a particularly good source of anti-oxidant flavonoids, which research has associated with higher cognitive function (predictive of lower dementia risk). Whilst one single food is not going to prevent disease, blueberries make a nutritious addition to a healthy diet.


  • 1 beetroot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 apple, quartered, peeled and chopped
  • 100g blueberries
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 250ml chilled water


  1. Place all of the ingredients, except the water, in a blender and whizz until smooth.
  2. Add the chilled water and whizz again to combine.

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Rob Hobson

About Rob Hobson

Rob Hobson MSc RNutr is an award-winning registered nutritionist (AFN) and sports nutritionist (SENR) with over 15 years of experience. He founded London-based consultancy RH Nutrition, and has degrees in nutrition, public health nutrition and sports nutrition.