Is the brain really a muscle? True or not, it makes sense that healthy foods beneficial to the body can boost brainpower, too. Here, a look at 50 ways to keep strong—mentally, physically and even eco-consciously.

By Kristin Donnelly
February 08, 2012
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In this Article

New Healthy Essentials

Healthy Cleaning Products

 Scour Pads

Scour Pads

Twist makes dye-free pads with plant-based materials, not synthetics. $1.39 for 2; © Sponge Technology Corporation, LLC  Steel Polisher

Steel Polisher

A Better Life’s coconut-oil-based Einshine keeps stainless steel bright. $7 for 16 oz; © Geoff Cardin, Photo Source  Dish Soap

Dish Soap

Common Good sells dish soap and other eco-cleaners in bulk. $5 for 12 oz; © Emily Kate Roemer  All-Purpose


Bon Ami’s liquid cleanser gently scours everything from steel to porcelain. $3.60 for 25 oz; © Bon Ami  Hand Soap

Hand Soap

Made from biodiesel by-products, Further soap is used at L.A.’s Mozza. $12.50 for 8 oz; © Ian O’Phelan

Healthy Snacks

 Dried Fruit

Dried Fruit

Whether plain or chocolate-covered, Fruit Bliss’s plums are especially tender. $3 for 6 oz; © Antonis Achilleos  Candy Cups

Candy Cups

Justin’s cups use dark chocolate and organic peanut butter. $6.25 for 3 packs of 2; © Todd Powers  Kale Chips

Kale Chips

Coated with cashews, Brad’s Raw Foods chips stay crunchy. $7.50 for 2.5 oz; Courtesy of Brad’s Raw Foods  Granola


Nut bar creator Kind makes not-too-sweet granolas in snackable clusters. $6 for 11 oz; Courtesy of KIND  Seaweed Sheets

Seaweed Sheets

SeaSnax’s salty, crispy sheets of nori have only 16 calories per pack. $9 for six .18-oz packs; © Antonis Achilleos

Healthy Beauty Products



Cowshed moisturizer has a surprising skin nourisher: quinoa. $50 for 50 ml; Courtesy of Cowshed  Clay Mask

Clay Mask

Whole Truth’s mask contains antioxidant-rich goji berries. $12 for 2 oz; © Antonis Achilleos  Cleanser


Super by Dr. Nicholas Perricone makes its face wash with açai, a “superfruit.” $30 for 4 oz; © Antonis Achilleos  Face Cream

Face Cream

Avocado pumps up the anti-aging effects of Malin + Goetz’s cream. $72 for 1.7 oz; © MAILIN + GOETZ  Shower Cream

Shower Cream

Lush’s Body Conditioner softens skin with argan oil and cupuacu butter. $30 for 7.9 oz; © Antonis Achilleos

Healthy Drinks

 Fruit Soda

Fruit Soda

Cascal blends in non-alcoholic fermented juices for sweetness. $1.25 for 12 oz; © Antonis Achilleos  Aloe Water

Aloe Water

Alo’s honey-sweetened drink is filled with hydrating chunks of aloe. $2 for 17 oz; © Antonis Achilleos  Chia Kombucha

Chia Kombucha

Chia seeds make GT’s cherry kombucha pleasantly thick. $4 for 16 oz; at health food stores. © Antonis Achilleos  Purifying Juice

Purifying Juice

Blue Print Cleanse now sells its juices at select Whole Foods. From $7 for 16 oz; © Evan Sung  Tonic Syrup

Tonic Syrup

Tom’s Handcrafted’s quinine syrup is nicely bitter and great in seltzer. $12 for 200 ml; © Seth Smoot

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Fruits to Save the World


Some people believe that this starchy tropical fruit, which is high in fiber and minerals like calcium, could help provide people with needed calories. One tree can produce up to 450 pounds.


Popular in Jamaica, this creamy fruit is native to West Africa, where people use the underripe flesh to make soap and the seeds to kill parasites. Ripe ackee could add nutrients to diets.

Tsamma Melon

This melon, an ancestor of watermelon, grows wild in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa and is a great source of water. Breeders are using the fruit’s drought-resistant genes to create new melon varieties.

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Meat-Free Mondays

 Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney “The meat industry is an even bigger contributor to climate change than the whole transport industry.”— Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney, The Meat Free Monday Cookbook © Tara Fisher  Spicy Carrot Sandwiches

British chef Nick Sandler created this spicy carrot sandwich recipe for Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney’s new The Meat Free Monday Cookbook. © Antonis Achilleos

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Nutritious Ingredients

 Broccoli Frittata Broccoli frittata combines two powerhouse ingredients. © Antonis Achilleos


Broccoli is rich in vitamin K and the phytonutrient sulforaphane, both of which can protect the brain.


Egg yolks are full of choline, a healthy fat that helps boost memory and brain development.

Green Tea

Caffeine and some spices improve memory. David’s Tea makes a North African Mint green tea with fennel and black pepper. $7 for 1.75 oz;

Chia Seeds

Athletes eat chia seeds as a concentrated source of iron, protein and omega-3s. In Grace Parisi’s chia-seed pudding recipe, the seeds thicken and add a little crunch to an almond-milk pudding.

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Powerful Food Combinations

Chickpeas + Citrus Dressing

Vitamin C in citrus juice helps the body absorb the iron in chickpeas.

Tomatoes + Olive Oil

Lycopene (a heart-disease-fighting antioxidant) in red fruits like tomatoes is fat-soluble, so eating it with a healthy fat like olive oil increases its impact.

Cabbage + Meat or Eggs

Cabbage’s sulforaphane and the selenium in meat and eggs, both cancer-fighting nutrients, are four times more effective when eaten together.

Green Tea + Lemon

A squeeze of lemon lets the body absorb 13 times more of the tea’s antioxidants.

Whole-Grain Bread + Peanut Butter

Like rice and beans, the duo forms a complete protein, which is good for building and maintaining muscle.

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Smart Style

Who says hyper-functional can’t also be beautiful? These new items all perform double (or triple) duty.  Storage Beakers

Storage Beakers

Chef’n’s measuring cups come with lids for storage. $30 for the set; © David Bell/Studio3  Practical Pitcher

Practical Pitcher

Takeya’s glass jugs are great for making both hot tea and iced tea. From $13; © Takeya USA  Versatile Pots

Versatile Pots

Revol’s new ceramic cookware, like this tagine, is induction- and-microwave-friendly. $300; © REVOL USA  Expandable Pot Stand

Expandable Pot Stand

Design House Stockholm’s trivet unfolds for larger pots. $25; Courtesy of Design House Stockholm

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Healthier Travel

Hotels are now looking beyond the usual (often bleak) fitness room to help guests have more fun while staying in shape.  Hotel Palomar

Hotel Palomar, San Francisco and Chicago

In San Francisco, a Wellness Ambassador leads morning runs on routes customized by fitness level. In Chicago, a manager jogs with guests once a week along Lake Michigan. From $144 per night; Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels  Hotel Cinco Punta de Mita

Hotel Cinco Punta de Mita, Mexico

This new hotel on Mexico’s Pacific coast has a surfing concierge to arrange classes, gear and day trips. Surfing legend Gerry Lopez leads occasional paddle-surfing camps. From $290 per night; Courtesy of Hotel CINCO

Affinia Dumont, New York City

This fitness-themed hotel offers guests iPod Shuffles loaded with motivating playlists, yoga mats and local walking maps. Now, a new staff nutritionist helps guests grocery shop and plan healthy meals. From $179 per night;

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Better Ways to Eat Out


Soupergirl; Washington, DC

Mother-daughter team Sara and Marilyn Polon offer two soups per week (one chunky, one smooth), hearty grain salads and vegan corn bread at their shop and by monthly “soupscription.” 314 Carroll St.; © Rivka Friedman  Fern

Fern; Charlotte, North Carolina

Chef Alyssa Gorelick’s vegetarian (and often vegan) menu includes luxurious dishes like goat-cheese cannelloni with spiced almonds and squash-blossom hush puppies with caramelized-onion butter. 1323 Central Ave.; Courtesy of Fern  Dig Inn

Dig Inn, NYC

Adam Eskin rethought his healthy lunch chain The Pump, changing its name to Dig Inn and opting for homey seasonal dishes, made with local produce and created by chef Daniel Angerer, over chicken cutlets and low-fat cheeses. Multiple locations; © Daniel Angerer  Vedge

Vedge, Philadelphia

The new spot from chefs Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby of the culty vegetarian restaurant Horizons focuses less on seitan and more on beautiful vegetable dishes like spice-cured carrots with sauerkraut. 1221 Locust St.; Courtesy of Vedge

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Healthy Eating Tips from Star Chefs