Whether you want to optimize your diet during exam season or stay in shape for your next work meeting, paying attention to your diet can really pay off, even if there isn’t just one “brain food”, think carefully about what you eat, which gives you the best chance of getting the nutrients you need for your cognitive health and mood.
The following foods have been linked to better brain health and are great choices when considering an exam.
Below are the 10 best brain foods for studying.
Wholegrains are rich in nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). Research suggests that eating whole foods as part of a healthy diet has a positive impact on cognitive function. Eating too few healthy carbs, like whole grains, can lead to brain fog and irritability. Opt for “brown” whole grains, bread, rice and pasta.
Eggs are a key part of this research because they contain choline and lutein, two important nutrients for brain development, memory and learning. Choline plays a vital role in brain development and health during fetal development and throughout life.
A study in 19 children and adolescents found that egg yolks consumption was associated with short-term learning, higher memory and attention scores than egg whites. When it comes to brain health, egg yolks are a good source of choline, which is associated with reducing inflammation and promoting brain functions, such as maintaining memory and communication between brain cells.
3. Oily Fish
Oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help build membranes around every cell in the body, including brain cells. They can therefore improve the structure of brain cells called neurons.
If you are vegetarian, you may want to add seeds such as flax, hemp, and chia seeds to your diet, or consider a plant-based omega-3 supplement from microalgae. If you are considering taking a supplement, talk to your GP first. It’s worth remembering that vegetarian or vegan moms, or those who are breastfeeding, should consider a supplement because of the important role omega-3 fatty acids play in the development of your baby’s central nervous system.
Blueberries contain a compound that has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. This means that blueberries can reduce inflammation, which reduces the risk of brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, antioxidants have also been found to facilitate communication between brain cells.
They’re widely available, but you can also get the same effect with other dark red and purple fruits, like blackberries, and vegetables, like red cabbage. These contain the same protective compounds called anthocyanins.
5. Dark Chocolate and cocoa products
Dark chocolate can also improve brain function. A study in healthy volunteers showed that consuming flavanol-rich cocoa for 5 days improved blood flow to the brain. Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
Eating chocolate could help sharpen the mind and give cognition a short-term boost, an expert from the University of Nottingham has found.
Tomatoes are a particularly good source of two all-star antioxidants: lycopene and beta-carotene. These are essential for protecting brain cells and preventing damage. Tomatoes turn out to be one of the cheapest ways to boost your brain.
Prefer cooked tomatoes and enjoy them with a little olive oil to optimize absorption and use by your body. Other foods that provide this, and similar protective phytonutrients, include papaya, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.
Broccoli is packed with brain-healthy antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids. Broccoli also contains compounds called glucosinolates, which the body breaks down into compounds called isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Some research suggests that low levels of selenium would possibly contribute to depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Therefore, broccoli is one of the satisfactory ingredients to combat depression.
A new study has found that eating nuts consistently boosts brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, memory, and other key brain functions according to researchers at Loma Linda University. Nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E along with green leafy vegetables, asparagus, olives, seeds, eggs, rice and whole grains.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
Delicious as a snack, pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which is known to boost memory and thinking skills. They’re also rich in stress-busting magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, the “good mood” chemical that helps serotonin kick in and gets to work. Other helpful food sources include beef, oysters, chickpeas, and nuts, including cashews and almonds.
A source of healthy unsaturated fats, avocados can support the brain. Consuming monounsaturated fats can lower blood pressure, and hypertension is linked to cognitive decline. Therefore, by reducing hypertension, the unsaturated fats in avocados may reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.
Avocado honey is especially good for anemia and calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, or phosphorus deficiencies. It is dark honey and therefore rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. This means that it helps with all conditions that involve antioxidant needs, from slowing down age-related conditions to regular colds.