Sailing by on junk food and energy drinks? Find out which food and drinks can really fuel your brain.
Knee deep in textbooks, organizing lecture notes, and prepping for tests challenges your brain. Give yourself the energy fuel that you need to stay focused and absorb what you learn in the classroom.
Milk and yogurt. Low-fat dairy products are packed with protein and B vitamins that may assist you concentrate and work more efficiently. I recommend plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, which is super-high in protein and has no added sugar. Milk and yogurt are fortified with vitamin D, which also supports brain health.
Oats. It's hard to beat oatmeal for breakfast. Oatmeal is a whole grain, which is digested slowly, supplying the brain and body with steady energy on demand.
And there’s the added benefit of B vitamins and fibre as well as potassium, zinc, and vitamin E.
Blueberries. One of nature's super-foods, blueberries are packed with nutrients that give them their deep-blue colour. One study links blueberries to improved learning and memory.
I recommend two servings (about 1 ½ cups) of fresh or frozen blueberries per day.
Salmon. We need fat for our brains. Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that are good for the brain. Both wild-caught and farm-raised salmon provide omega-3s but obviously wild-caught is preferred. I recommend 2 servings of oily fish a week.
Walnuts. While all nuts provide brain fuel in the form of protein and both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, walnuts are best. One study found that students who regularly ate walnuts were better at deductive reasoning. The healthy fat in nuts is still fat, so better avoid eating too many. Stick to a daily fist-full serving.
Hemp seed. Hemp seed is another real superfood. It delivers brain-powering protein, omega-3s and -6s, and a variety of antioxidants and other nutrients. Often packaged as a powder, the seeds of Cannabis Sativa -- better known as hemp -- are totally versatile. They have a nutty flavour which blends well with lots of breakfast foods and baked goods. Stir a couple of spoon-fulls into oatmeal, mix with milk or yogurt, sprinkle on cereal, or bake into muffins.
Chocolate. Yes, chocolate is a brain food which works by increasing blood flow to the brain.
But not all chocolate is the same. Milk chocolate does not have enough cocoa to provide the required benefits, and white chocolate -- which is not really chocolate -- has no cocoa at all.
Stick to dark, bittersweet chocolate and no more than a few squares a day, about 15 grams. Or stir a teaspoon of cocoa powder into your Greek yogurt. Avoid alkalised or Dutch processed cocoa, which has fewer antioxidants than regular cocoa.
Dark green vegetables. Spinach, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, turnip greens and romaine lettuce all provide folate, which seems critical to brain function. Eat a good mix of veggies rather than favouring just one or two, so you get a mix of nutrients.
Beans. Beans supply high-quality protein, magnesium, and B vitamins, all of which help your brain function better. Because beans also have lots of fibre and complex carbohydrates they are slowly digested and therefore you will benefit from them over the course of the day. Beans are also good sources of omega-3s and antioxidants, particularly kidney beans. Try to eat one-half to two-thirds cup of beans every day.
Coffee. Caffeinated coffee gives you a dose of early morning boost, and in small doses, it can help you concentrate. The key word here is "small." Stick to 250ml cups instead of Grande-size portions of Starbucks to avoid caffeine jitters -- and extra calories, if you're a latte, mocha, or cappuccino connoisseur.
Don't like coffee? Choose green tea, which has many of the same health benefits as coffee.
And failing all that…. Make sure you don’t get caught cheating in your exams!