Lillian Wilson

Brain Food by Lisa Mosconi

'Brain Food' provides evidence-based recommendations to optimise cognitive function and prevent cognitive decline.

Brain Food

During her keynote speech at an international conference on Alzheimer’s disease prevention, Lisa Mosconi had disappointing news to share regarding the treatment options and the limited effectiveness of available medications.

Unexpectedly, a member of the audience asked about the potential benefits of olive oil for the human brain, which caught Mosconi off guard. As a тeuroscientist, her focus had primarily been on the genetic aspects of the disease.

However, this encounter prompted Mosconi to approach Alzheimer’s from a fresh perspective. She began delving into the impact of diet and nutrition on the development and treatment of Alzheimer’s. In her book ‘Brain Food,’ Dr. Mosconi explores the intricate connection between our brains and the food we consume, aiming to educate the public about maintaining a brain-healthy diet.

Author’s background

Lisa Mosconi is an Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College’s Department of Neurology. Previously, she founded and directed the Nutrition and Brain Fitness Lab at New York University.

Lisa Mosconi (r)

Lisa Mosconi is an Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College’s Department of Neurology. Previously, she founded and directed the Nutrition and Brain Fitness Lab at New York University.

Lisa Mosconi holds an impressive dual PhD degree in Neuroscience and Nuclear Medicine from the University of Florence in Italy. In addition to her academic achievements, she is a certified integrative nutritionist and a board-certified holistic healthcare practitioner.

What is the book about?

In her book, ‘Brain Food,’ Dr. Lisa Mosconi challenges conventional wisdom and offers a groundbreaking approach to cognitive health and nutrition. Drawing on her expertise in brain science, the microbiome, and nutritional genomics, she highlights the unique dietary needs of the brain that differ from other organs. Dr. Mosconi debunks pseudoscience and provides evidence-based recommendations for a comprehensive food plan.

The book is divided into three parts, each addressing a specific aspect of improving diet for brain health. The first part delves into the nutritional requirements of the brain, shedding light on the essential nutrients it needs to function optimally. The second part guides readers on how to make better food choices, dispelling myths around popular diets and offering surprising insights.

In the third part, Dr. Mosconi offers a self-assessment tool – a comprehensive 80-question test – that helps readers understand where they stand on the brain health spectrum. By categorising readers as Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced based on their test results, she provides a clear picture of their current eating habits and their impact on brain health.

Dr. Mosconi emphasises the correlation between diet and brain health, drawing from her extensive experience analysing brain MRIs of patients based on their dietary choices. This personalised approach enables readers to gain valuable insights into their own brain health and make informed changes to their diet accordingly.

‘Brain Food’ includes detailed lists of recommended foods and those to avoid, as well as 24 enticing brain-boosting recipes inspired by Dr. Mosconi’s Italian background. Whether the goal is to enhance memory, prevent cognitive decline, improve mood, or simply sharpen mental acuity, this book provides the ultimate plan for a healthy brain.

Table of contents

  • Preface
  • Contents
  • 1. The Looming Brain Health Crisis
  • 2. Introducing the Human Brain, a Picky Eater
  • 3. The Water of Life
  • 4. The Skinny on Brain Fat
  • 5. The Benefits of Protein
  • 6. Carbs, Sugars, and More Sweet Things
  • 7. Making Sense of Vitamins and Minerals
  • 8. Food Is Information
  • 9. The World’s Best Brain Diets
  • 10. It’s Not All About Food
  • 11. A Holistic Approach to Brain Health
  • 12. Be Mindful of Quality Over Quantity
  • 13. A Typical Brain-Healthy Week
  • 1. How Brain-Nutritious Is Your Diet, Really?
  • 2. The Three Levels of Neuro-Nutrition Care
  • 3. Brain-Boosting Recipes
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Follow Penguin

Key takeaways from ‘Brain Food’

1You control how food affects your brain

We have the power to determine whether food acts as poison or medicine for our bodies. Recent research reveals that well-known illnesses like Alzheimer’s are not primarily caused by poor genes. In fact, it is estimated that less than 1% of the population develops cognitive dysfunction due to hereditary factors. Instead, the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is heavily influenced by our food choices and lifestyle.

Among all the actions we take to care for our bodies, such as exercise and medication, eating is the most frequent and directly impacts our brain’s well-being. It’s important to recognise that food has the potential to harm our brains easily. That’s why paying attention to what we consume becomes crucial.

Our brains require approximately 45 essential nutrients to function optimally. These nutrients come from the foods we eat and directly contribute to our brain’s nourishment. When we make smart food choices, we enhance our cognitive health, boost our memory, reduce stress and anxiety, and most importantly, slow down the ageing process of our brain.

2Stay hydrated to support brain health

We’ve often heard the advice to ‘stay hydrated,’ and it’s for a good reason. Did you know that over 80% of your brain is composed of water? This remarkable substance is one of the few that can pass through the blood-brain barrier. As a result, water plays a direct role in the brain’s energy production. It also facilitates crucial chemical reactions, fills the spaces between brain cells, and helps eliminate toxins. Drinking two litres of water per day can boost your brain’s performance by up to 30%. So, investing in a good water filter is a wise choice to maintain your health and hydration.

3Eat a rich diet and amino acids and glucose for better brain health

Learning how to nourish your brain with a rich diet containing essential amino acids and glucose is crucial. The central nervous system, composed of neurons, relies on amino acids to form proteins, which are responsible for critical brain functions like thinking, speaking, remembering, and even dreaming.

A poor diet can negatively impact our cognitive abilities, and this is evident in depression patients who often have lower serotonin levels. To prevent such conditions, it’s vital to incorporate brain-boosting foods like spirulina, raw cacao, oats, goat milk, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and fish into your meals. These foods help maintain a healthy neurotransmitter system and enhance brain function.

Glucose is another key component that fuels the brain by converting it into energy. Carbohydrates provide the necessary glucose that the brain needs. Just like water, glucose easily passes through the blood-brain barrier to supply fuel to brain cells. To support brain health, include foods like red beets, kiwis, grapes, dates, and honey in your diet. However, it’s important to limit refined sugar intake. Consuming sugar from sodas, candy bars, cakes, and pastries leads to a rapid rise and subsequent drop in blood glucose levels, leaving you feeling fatigued and weak. Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes with skin on, carrots, grapefruit, lentils, pumpkin, berries, and whole grains. If you’re craving something sweet, consider indulging in a square of 70% dark chocolate.

Overall rating & strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews

The book has gotten 3.92 ⭐️ on GoodReads.


  • Provides a scientific foundation, citing relevant studies and research.

  • Complex information is communicated in an accessible manner for the average reader.

  • Offers practical and actionable advice that can be implemented immediately.

  • The author’s impressive credentials, including dual PhDs in neuroscience and nutrition, lend credibility to the content.


  • The author’s focus on expensive and privileged food options, such as caviar, wild salmon, and high-quality olive oil, may feel disconnected from the reality and financial limitations of many readers.

  • The book does not adequately address the potential impact of the recommended diet on individuals who are chronically ill, diabetic, or insulin resistant.

Best quotes from ‘Brain Food’

"If you want to make sure your brain has enough opportunities to clean itself, guard your sleep, especially during the first part of the night."
“The human brain requires more than forty-five nutrients to be at its best, and the ways these nutrients are used are as different as the molecules, cells, and tissues they help to create. Nutrients are usually divided into five major groups, representing the basic components of our food: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.”

“A large body of scientific literature, my own work included, shows that people who closely follow a Mediterranean diet are not only less likely to develop diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, but also have a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s as they age.”

Final takeaway

‘Brain Food’ by Dr. Lisa Mosconi offers a fresh and evidence-based approach to cognitive health and nutrition. Dr. Mosconi’s innovative approach sheds light on the vital role of nutrition in optimising brain health, providing readers with the ultimate plan for a healthy brain.

It is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to enhance memory, prevent cognitive decline, improve mood, or sharpen mental acuity.

Where to buy

You may purchase ‘Brain Food’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.

Healthypedia FAQ

Yes, 'Brain Food' is grounded in scientific research. Dr. Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist with dual PhDs in neuroscience and nutrition, cites relevant studies and research throughout the book to provide a scientific foundation for her recommendations.

The book includes comprehensive lists of recommended foods and those to avoid, as well as 24 brain-boosting recipes inspired by Dr. Mosconi's Italian background.

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