Forget thinking caps and crosswords — here are the seven foods you should be eating to boost your brainpower and smash those exams.
Salmon and tuna aren’t only good for your heart — they’re rich in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is incredibly important for the normal functioning of neurons in the brain. Studies have shown that increasing your DHA intake can boost the function of your memory by a whopping 15 percent! Long-term studies have also shown that people who eat oily fish at least once a week have a significantly lower risk of developing dementia and other memory conditions as they age.
Study snack: Take a lunch break and tuck into a pan-fried salmon fillet with some salad, or hit up your local sushi joint for some salmon and tuna sashimi or nigiri.
Berries but particularly blueberries are high in antioxidants that protect the brain and body from oxidative stress, and may reduce the affects of age-related mental conditions like dementia. Diets rich in blueberries significantly improve not only your learning capacity, but also your motor skills, making them a great food to help advance your training. One study has even shown that blueberries have reversed nerve cell damage in rats, increasing their short-term memory and improving their balance and co-ordination. What a superfood!
Study snack: Utterly perfect to nibble on when you’re hard at work, or whip them up in a smoothie for a breakfast energy boost.
High in monounsaturated fats that promote healthy blood flow and lower your blood pressure, avocados are fantastic for your brain, which relies on the oxygen in your blood. Monounsaturated fatty acids also help to protect the nerve cells in your brain, safeguarding your memory and motor skills. Not only this, avocados are high in vitamins E and C, which are associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Study snack: Swipe some avo on your toast with salt and pepper (and tomato and cheese), chop it up to put in a salad or include it in a smoothie.
Nuts and seeds
Great for maintaining a healthy memory and are perfect if you’re looking for a study snack or something to nibble on between meals. But not all nuts are created equally. Almonds and hazelnuts are high in vitamin E to boost your memory, whereas walnuts have a high concentration of DHA which increases your cognitive performance, and peanuts contain niacin, which has been associated with preventing cognitive decline. Similarly, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are a source of tryptophan to keep your mind happy and help you sleep, while flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 for memory and overall health.
Study snack: Keep a container of these on hand when you get the mid-paragraph munchies and sprinkle them on your salads for a bit of crunch.
Dark green, leafy veggies
Broccoli, spinach and kale are all great sources of vitamin E and folate. Vitamin E is great for your memory function, and folate assists in the breakdown of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been thought to contribute to the destruction of nerve cells in the brain. Broccoli is a particularly wonderful vegetable as it’s also high in choline, which has been found to improve your memory, and vitamin K, which is known to strengthen your cognitive abilities.
Study snack: Check out some recipes for kale chips for a nearby nibble, use them as a base for your salads or stir them through stir fries and saucy pastas.
Freshly brewed tea
Tea contains moderate amounts of caffeine that can improve your focus and concentration. It’s also a good source of catechines, an antioxidant that promotes healthy blood flow. The water in tea will also help you keep hydrated, which assists in concentration.
Study snack: It’s important to keep hydrated as you study! Brew a cup as you head to your desk to really kickstart your session.
Dark chocolate doesn’t just have great antioxidant properties and caffeine for mental stimulation. Cocoa has also been shown to improve your verbal fluency and cognitive function, as well as regulating blood flow to the brain. It also stimulates the production of endorphins to keep you positive. Steer clear of chocolate high in sugar, as it can cause a sugar high followed by rapid mental fatigue.
Study snack: Obviously keep a small bar nearby for when the desire to run away gets too much! You can also make yourself a dark hot chocolate to sip on.