Right now it’s exam season for many students and to keep motivated and energy levels up, the first thing you may reach for is chocolate and a crate of energy drinks to keep you going. However we need foods that feed our brain and help us function to our potential. Just like your muscles, heart, and lungs need nutrients, so too does your brain.
Here are some of the top five foods for ultimate brain power to keep you performing at your best during the exam season!
- Oily fish
- Whole grains
- Go nuts!
You may have heard that fish is “brain food”, but why? Oily fish such as salmon, fresh tuna (sorry tinned doesn’t count), mackerel and sardines are full of Omega-3 fatty acids including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are involved in the functions of brain neurotransmitters. These essential fatty acids can’t be made by the body and so need to be taken in through food. Studies suggest that eating oily fish can potentially improve your memory function by 15%. So when you need to remember those facts for that exam, eat some oily fish to help boost memory retention!
Your brain needs energy just like other parts of your body, so reach for the carbs – but the whole grain kind. Opt for foods such as whole grain pasta, rice, bread, and oatcakes. White carbs can give you a spike in your blood sugar, which can leave you with that tired, slumped feeling shortly after. You need to choose whole grains that have a low GI (glycemic index) and steadily release energy throughout the day, so that you keep your energy levels up and motivation to revise.
These are best known for their amazing antioxidant qualities, but have also been known to improve your short-term memory. So when you’re trying to revise and need to retain information, have a punnet of blueberries on hand. They’re delicious popped on cereal, mixed in with yoghurt, or in a smoothie.
- It’s been suggested that eating nuts will help prevent cognitive decline. Walnuts are high in DHA, which enhances cognitive performance, and according to the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (Volume 24, Issue 5, 912 – 919) walnuts can reverse brain deterioration. You only need a cup of walnuts a day, which provides 100% of the recommended amount of DHA.
- In addition, almonds have been found to improve your memory, as well as lowering cholesterol. Almonds have one of the most concentrated amounts of vitamin E which is associated with cognitive ability and memory capability.
Think kale, cabbage, and broccoli. Dark green vegetables have a wealth of good nutrients that are vital for optimal bodily function. Broccoli is full of vitamin K, which helps to improve memory function and is packed full of folic acid that can fight off Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating foods which keep your energy levels up and boost memory function will help you to better retain information, enabling you to revise effectively and perform better in exams. You literally can eat your way to success!