Anna Evans

Smart Plants by Julie Morris

The intricate connection between the brain and our dietary choices forms the basis of an enlightening journey into the world of cognitive enhancement in ‘Smart Plants’.

Smart Plants

The book has gotten 4.6 ⭐️ on Amazon.

While our understanding of the intricate relationship between nutrition and brain function continues to evolve, ‘Smart Plants’ presents a compelling argument for the profound influence diet can have on our cognitive abilities.

The author, Julie Morris explores how the foods we consume can significantly impact our brain’s performance, encompassing memory, focus, and overall mental well-being.

Author’s background

Julie Morris is a New York Times bestselling author and a natural-food chef, consultant, and advocate of whole, plant-based foods and superfoods for optimal health.

Julie Morris (r)

She is the author of ’Superfood Kitchen’, ‘Superfood Smoothies’, ’Superfood Juices’, ’Superfood Snacks’, and ’Superfood Soups’. Her in-depth knowledge of superfoods has been quoted by The Wall Street JournalGQ, and Women’s Health Magazine, and featured in numerous culinary publications.

What is the book about?

In the first section of ‘Smart Plants’, readers will acquire a basic understanding of brain biology and function without delving too deeply into complex details. This knowledge serves as a starting point for exploring methods to enhance mental faculties. Subsequently, readers will delve into the realm of brain nutrition, gaining insights into their individual dietary needs and actionable steps they can take to cultivate a brain-friendly diet.

A Smart Plants diet is structured into three tiers:

1) An everyday regimen characterised by whole, nutrient-rich, plant-based foods, which promote the overall health of the brain.

2) The incorporation of nootropic ingredients for an extra cognitive boost.

3) The consideration of plant-based supplements for further fine-tuning.

Detailed explanations of these foods and food-based supplements aid readers in making informed choices that align with their preferences and goals. By the end of this section, readers will possess the tools necessary to tailor their own plan for optimising brain function.

In the second part, all recipes are crafted to provide neuroprotection and foster balanced brain function, with the specific benefits outlined in a ‘Mind Meter’ at the end of each recipe. While these recipes predominantly feature common plant-based ingredients, readers have the option to augment their functionality by incorporating specialty nootropic ingredients. An optional, personalised nootropic Brain Boost is also provided for each recipe.

The final section introduces a collection of ‘rituals,’ which can be likened to a comprehensive, functional food celebration, condensed into easy-to-follow recipes. These distinctive recipes are infused with premium nootropics and cater to individuals eager to elevate their brain function to new heights.

Key takeaways from ‘Smart Plants’

1Neurotransmitters play a vital role in brain function and influence our well-being

While serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are known for regulating mood, dopamine also drives pleasure-seeking behaviours and can be influenced by surprising experiences. Physical activity, such as exercise, can help balance neurotransmitters and promote overall brain health.

  • Serotonin, often associated with mood and happiness, affects various aspects of brain function, including sleep and appetite. Depression, a common condition, doesn’t solely result from serotonin imbalances.

  • Dopamine, known as the pleasure chemical, motivates action, but excessive stimulation can lead to addiction. Goal setting and achievement can naturally increase dopamine levels.

  • Norepinephrine and epinephrine play roles in arousal, stress response, and mental focus.

  • Acetylcholine, crucial for processing information, declines with age and is linked to cognitive impairment.

  • Glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, facilitates learning and memory but can lead to excitotoxicity if excessively activated.

  • GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, promotes relaxation and calmness.

A balance of neurotransmitters within a healthy range is essential for optimal brain function.

2Neurotransmitters cannot be consumed through food, but nutrients in specific foods can support their production

A well-functioning brain chemistry operates within a healthy range, adapting to fluctuating needs. Physical activity helps balance neurotransmitters, and natural methods support overall brain health.

3You can improve your cognitive performance with ‘Three Ps of Brain Building’

In the current era, brain health research has evolved beyond solely addressing neurological diseases to optimising and enhancing the functioning of healthy brains. Recent studies challenge the idea that brain decline is inevitable with age, offering hope for brain rebuilding and unleashing human potential. This book approaches brain improvement through the ‘Three Ps of Brain Building’:

1. Priming: Everyday brain maintenance.

2. Protection: Shielding the brain from cognitive impairments and diseases.

3. Plasticity: Enhancing the brain’s flexibility, adaptability, repair, and growth. Understanding these concepts empowers you to achieve your cognitive goals through the foods you consume, making brain health a compelling aspect of personal optimisation.

4Cut on sugar, eat some fat and protein

The study of how nutrition affects brain function is relatively new, with much of the data originating from animal studies. However, the quality of the foods you consume and your overall dietary patterns are more critical than focusing on optimising specific nutrients. A ‘qualitarian’ approach to food emphasises the following simple guidelines for boosting brainpower: a brain-supportive diet includes some fat, some protein, less sugar, and more plants.

While there’s room for flexibility within this guideline, these four dietary principles serve as the primary tools for enhancing brain health and cognitive function.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • How to Use This Book
  • Change Your Mind
  • CHAPTER 1: Shift Happens
  • CHAPTER 2: Why Plants?
  • CHAPTER 3: Fueling Your Brain
  • CHAPTER 4: The Power of Micronutrients
  • CHAPTER 5: Shaping Your Diet to Sharpen Your Mind
  • CHAPTER 6: The World of Nootropics
  • CHAPTER 7: Mind-Enhancing Supplements
  • The Recipes
  • Inspiration for Eating Seasonally
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Rituals
  • Recipes by Meal
  • 7-Day Smart Plants Challenge
  • Resources Guide
  • Glossary
  • Metric Conversion Charts
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
  • About the Photographer

Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews


  • The writing is well laid out and the information is solid and easy to read through.

  • The book includes a glossary, lots of documentation in the back, and resources.


  • According to some readers, the book contains recipes which have foods that are not easy to find in some areas and might frustrate some people.

Quotes from ‘Smart Plants’

“The next time someone tells you you’re getting a fat head, take that as a compliment – it could actually mean you’re growing a healthier brain!”
“In short, your ability to learn, focus, conceptualize, remember, and even shrug off stress is directly related to the food you put on your plate, which can make all the difference in how you think and feel.”
“Your brain, like the rest of your body, seeks balance, not excess. For every powerful benefit of a neurotransmitter, there is an equally undesirable range of nonbeneficial effects when that neurotransmitter is released in excess.”

Final takeaway

If you find yourself grappling with issues like a lack of focus, memory lapses, mental fog, or stress, or if you’re simply interested in optimising your mental acuity and safeguarding your brain’s well-being, then ‘Smart Plants’ is a must-read for you. This book is authored by Julie Morris, a New York Times bestselling author. In ‘Smart Plants,’ she unveils the dietary secrets that can enhance your cognitive abilities.

Drawing from a combination of scientific research and the ancient wisdom of remedies, ‘Smart Plants’ introduces a fascinating array of plants known for their cognition-boosting properties. These encompass everyday foods as well as natural nootropics, which are edible substances capable of enhancing memory, learning, and problem-solving skills. With the inclusion of 65 delectable recipes, beautifully illustrated, Morris makes it accessible to incorporate these potent brain-boosting foods into your daily diet.

Where to buy

You can buy ‘Smart Plants: Power Foods & Natural Nootropics for Optimized Thinking, Focus & Memory’ on Amazon, where it’s available in hardcover and Kindle formats.

Healthypedia FAQ

Nutrition plays a crucial role in brain health by providing essential nutrients that support cognitive function, protect against neurodegenerative diseases, and enhance overall mental well-being.

Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants (e.g., vitamins C and E), B-vitamins, and minerals like zinc and magnesium are essential for brain health.

Excessive sugar consumption can lead to cognitive decline and increased risk of conditions like Alzheimer's disease. A high-sugar diet may impair memory and learning.

A healthy gut microbiome is linked to better brain health. The gut-brain axis demonstrates how the gut communicates with the brain, affecting mood, cognition, and even neurological conditions.

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