By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Brain power foods are a quick and easy way to pump up your brain power and keep your smarts in good shape.

Keys, where are they? Dates, words and pass codes, you know all the stuff we always forget.

“I’m really terrible at names. Like uh oh, you, how you doing,” said Joe Crawley of Cherry Hill.

What about doing quick math? Does your brain sometimes let you down?

“I think it’s getting worse with age,” said Barbara Crawley of Cherry Hill.

It happens to everyone eventually. Doctors say cognitive abilities can start dropping in your 40s. But there’s mounting evidence that what you eat can help improve brain function right now.

Registered Dietitian Judy Matusky with Bryn Mawr Hospital says sardines are known to be a powerful brain food. But if they don’t tickle your taste buds, sunflower seeds might be a good alternative.

“Most nuts and seeds are high in vitamin E. Sunflower seeds just happen to be one of the higher ones,” said Matusky.

And nuts are a good source of omeg-3 fatty acids, so is salmon.

A study in the journal Neurology showed people with low levels of omega-3 had brains that appeared two years older on MRI scans.

“When it comes to brain health, there are certain nutrients that are found in some foods that the research is looking at that could be pretty positive to keep our brains healthy,” said Matusky.

Sandy Karger says it’s working for her.

“I think it really does help,” said Sandy. She eats yogurt every day. It’s rich in vitamin B-12.

Studies show people with low levels of B-12 perform poorly on long term memory tests. So adding more yogurt to your diet may help your brain.

“It’s quicker thinking. I think cognitively being able to manage several things at a time, to multitask,” said Sandy.

Two more important brain foods include eggs and whole grains. They contain nutrients that also improve brain power.

“It couldn’t hurt and it’s a good reason to go have some,” said Kim Leibovitz of Cherry Hill.

Broccoli and spinach are two more brain power foods. Experts say you don’t have to eat them every day, but if you make these healthy things a regular part of your diet, you’ll be smarter longer.


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