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Vegan Brain Food- Choline

January 31, 2012

Perhaps you have heard about choline. If you Google “brain food”, articles espousing the importance of eating choline to support healthy brain function will come up. Eggs (yolks) are an excellent source of choline, and therefore considered to be a superior brain food. I remember back in high school, when I was simply a vegetarian, I used to eat a lot of hard-boiled eggs while I was studying for my AP tests. 🙂

What the heck does choline do? It is essential in the formation of acetylcholine, which is a very important neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters flood the synaptic gap between neurons and function to transmit impulses from one neuron to the next. Neurons are the building blocks of our brain. They transmit information and signals through electrical and chemical impulses to other parts of your brain and your body, such as muscles. Choline is also an important component of  myelin sheaths, which are fatty sheaths that cover the axon (the sending end of the neuron) and help to speed up impulses. As you can see, choline is essential in healthy brain functioning, processing of information, and movement. To highlight just how important it is, a deficiency of acetylcholine can lead to attention deficit disorders and eventually Alzheimer’s disease.

However, vegans cannot eat egg yolks. So, in the interest of having a well-oiled wheel of a brain for test week (four tests this week!), I have compiled a list of the most choline-rich vegan foods. It is recommended that females over 20 get 425mg/day, and males get 550mg/day. The following have at least 15mg choline/100g of ingredient.
Choline-Rich Vegan Foods :
* 30+mg/100g

cloves, ground
cinnamon, ground
chili powder**
curry powder **
garlic powder **
ginger, ground
mustard seed, yellow ***
onion powder
oregano, dried
paprika **
parsley, dried **
green peas
tomatoes/tomato products*
All nuts
All beans/legumes, highest were navy** and soybeans***

So, if you want to give your brain an extra boost, try incorporating the above into your diet, especially navy beans, various spices, and soybeans, which includes products such as soy milk and tofu.

-Over and out

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