We’ve always been told you are what you eat. Science tells us that some foods increase awareness and mental sharpness, while other foods make us lethargic and give us brain fog.
The best foods for studying are those packed with vitamins and minerals, good fats, and rich in antioxidants to provide energy and can even protect against diseases of the brain. And gut hormones produced in the brain influence cognitive ability, like understanding and processing new information, and staying focused on the task at hand. By eating foods that benefit both the gut and the brain, you’re doing right by your mind and body.
Check out this list of brain foods that can boost your memory while sharpening your focus. Many of these foods provide the best diet for brain function; something to consider while studying for exams.
The Best Diet for Brain Function
This jolly green giant of the vegetable world has plenty of vitamins C and K, plus choline to keep your memory sharp as a tack.
This fruit is one of the healthiest ones you can eat, and hey, who doesn’t like guacamole? If you’ve been avoiding avocados because of their high fat content, know that they are loaded with mono-saturated fats to keep your blood sugar levels in the right range. And because they have both vitamin K and folate, avocados can improve both memory and concentration and even protect against strokes by helping to prevent blood clots. They’re also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit.
Colorful berries, especially blueberries are packed with vitamins C and K. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress.
Celery stalkers appreciate that this crunchy veggie has antioxidants and polysaccharides which serve as anti-inflammatories to battle symptoms like inflammation, joint pain and irritable bowel syndrome. Celery also has so few calories it is great to keep your mouth busy while you study.
Romaine lettuce, kale, Swiss chard and turnip greens are packed with vitamins A and K to help fight inflammation and keep bones strong. Adults who eat leafy green veggies experience slower mental deterioration than those who ate no vegetables. Popeye was right.
Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids that can improve blood flow to the brain and heart and help lower blood pressure. But don’t go wild munching on Hershey’s Kisses just yet. Most of the chocolate you see on supermarket shelves is highly processed with few benefits. Remember, the darker the chocolate, the more health benefits you reap.
If you’ve avoided eating whole eggs because of cholesterol concerns, you’ll be happy to know that recent studies show that eating eggs had no effect on the cholesterol levels of adults and might even help raise good cholesterol levels. Eggs really are all they’re cracked up to be!
Bone broth is a superfood hot topic because it can boost your immune system, and heal your gut and your brain. The collagen in bones helps reduce intestinal inflammation and its amino acids like proline and glycine boosts your immune system functioning and helps to improve memory.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The powerful antioxidants in extra virgin olive oil make it a real brain food. The polyphenols in it can improve learning and memory, and are thought to even reverse age- and disease-related changes. Extra virgin olive oil is most beneficial straight out of the bottle because high heat hydrogenizes and decomposes it.
Rosemary oil contains carnosic acid which helps protect your brain against chemical-free radicals. It also protects your eyesight with high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. This essential oil is known to have the ability to boost mental activity and even stimulate hair growth, so your head looks as good as it thinks.
It’s not just a cliché. Salmon truly is brain food due to its omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your mind clear and improve memory. This tasty fish is even recommended for kids to help prevent ADHD by improving their focus. Wild-caught salmon is best because farm-raised may have higher levels of mercury and other toxins.
The nut that kind of looks like a brain can improve your cognitive health. They contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to improve mental alertness, and the vitamin E in them can help ward off Alzheimer’s Disease.
This ancient root contains curcumin, making the golden spice one of the most powerful (and natural) anti-inflammatory agents. Turmeric also helps boost antioxidant levels and keeps your immune system healthy, while boosting the brain’s oxygen intake and keeping you alert.
Easy Brain Friendly Recipes
Here are some fast and easy snack ideas to make getting your brain food boost in a snap, or should we say synapse! These brain friendly recipes are delicious and easy to prepare.
Ants on a Log
Your childhood favorite is as tasty as you remember. Fill a celery stalk with peanut or any nut butter and top with raisins.
Dried Berry Trail Mix
You can buy dried berry trail mix pre-made or make your own by mixing dried berries with nuts and seeds of your choice. Add coconut and dark chocolate chips to make it even tastier and more brain-healthy.
Mash an avocado with your favorite salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime. If you can take the heat, hot peppers contain capsaicin which improves circulation to the brain.
Strawberry Avocado Pudding
Mix equal parts strawberries and avocado, sweeten with Stevia and blend until smooth.
Remove stems and cut kale leaves to the size of potato chips. Toss with a dash of olive oil and sea salt. Place the kale in a single layer on a bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until crispy, tossing occasionally.