Whether it’s paying attention in class or prepping for a test, it is essential for children to be alert and to be at peak brainpower, for them to do well. While there are a lot of factors affecting their performance, like adequate sleep and physical activity, recent studies have shown that certain foods can actually help boost your brain power!
Our brains are actually pretty energy-hungry – they consume as much as 20% of our body’s calories. We need to provide it with the right kind of nutrients to keep it alert and active throughout the day. Here are 15 food that can help us do that:
Did you know that about 60% of your brain is made of fat? About half of that fat is comprised of Omega-3 Fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to have many health benefits for both your brain and body. A recent study showed that people with high levels of Omega 3 had increased blood flow to the brain.
Fatty fish like Mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring and sardines are a great source of Omega 3. Ideally, nutritionists recommend two servings of oily fish a week in your diet.
Seeds like Flax, Chia and Pumpkin are incredibly nutritious. They’re packed with magnesium, selenium, manganese and a great source of fibre, not to mention, some of that Omega 3 goodness!
A higher overall intake of seeds has also been linked to better brain function as we grow older.- so this might be a good time for the whole family to start incorporating these into your diet!
We’re looking at the brain-shaped nut for some superpowers- and it doesn’t disappoint! Most nuts are an excellent source of proteins and fats, but the walnut, in particular, also improves memory. They’re also a great source of vitamin E, which helps slow down mental decline. Make sure not to remove the skin – that’s where most of the nutrition lies to boost your brain power.
Another source of good dietary fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are linked to various health benefits are soybeans and soybean products. It is also one of the best sources of plant-based protein.
The nutrient content of soy foods is linked to improvements in cognitive and memory functions for superior retention. Soybean is also known to significantly reduce cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol levels.
These beans are used heavily in south Asian cooking, as the whole bean, soy flour, tofu and soybean oil.
A 2011 study by Tufts University in the United States suggested that blueberries boosts the short-term memory of the brain. Including blueberries in your diet can not only be great for your brain but is also shown to have an impact on improved muscle function. That’s because many naturally purple-coloured foods contain anthocyanins, which scientists are now touting as a ‘superfood’
Eggs are vitamin B-rich – which plays an important part in regulating brain function. Choline, which is present in egg yolk, is essential for the memory-boosting brain chemical, acetylcholine.
Including eggs as part of your regular breakfast plan provides a great, brain-boosting start to your child’s day!
Popeye might not have been too far off the mark with his spinach-eating superpowers! This leafy vegetable packs a mean punch with high amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium.
Eating spinach benefits eye health and reduces stress- both of which are essential, especially during these times.
This deep-yellow spice is a staple in every Indian household, and has a number ingretdiests that boost bain power! Curcumin- that’s the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there.
It is supposed to help memory, ease depression, and even help new brain cells grow!
Broccoli, Kale and other leafy greens may not be very popular with the children, but they’re an absolute must in your brain-food diet. They’re rich in brain-healthy nutrients like Lutein, vitamin K, beta-carotene and folate.
A leafy vegetable diet has been shown to slow down cognitive decline.
10. Dark chocolate
From the supremely unpopular to the very popular – here’s something that your children should have no trouble accepting on their plate- chocolate!
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids- which are a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants are especially beneficial to brain health as they reduce oxidative stress on the brain. It also has natural stimulants like caffeine, which help you keep alert and active!
This might seem like a strange addition to the brain-food list. We all know the benefits of oranges to keep illnesses at bay, but the same vitamins (vitamins B & C) help with keeping our nervous system healthy. Oranges are also rich in flavonoids, with those stress-relieving properties we were talking about!
A clinical study in healthy older adults reported that adults who consumed 100% orange juice scored better on combined tests for global cognitive function compared to the control group
12. Whole grains
Like we mentioned earlier, our brains need a lot of energy to function efficiently. But they need to be provided with that energy slowly and steadily. That’s why foods with a low Glycemic Index are great brain foods. Whole grains release their energy slowly into the bloodstream, thus feeding your brain steadily for much longer. They’re also a good source of vitamin E.
Evidence suggested that the antioxidant found in tomatoes- lycopene, protects against free-radical damage to cells that occur during Dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, lycopene also regulates genes that influence inflammation and brain growth.
The best way to help your body absorb the nutrients from tomatoes is to cook them down – it concentrates the lycopenes – and always leave the skin on!
14. Black currants
Black currants are a great source of vitamin C, which helps with managing stress and anxiety. Studies conducted by Northumbria University, UK also showed that blackcurrant juice improved attention and mood and reduced mental fatigue.
Avocados contain the ‘right fats’ – meaning they’re a source of monounsaturated fats. These are vital for brain growth during childhood. It helps reduce blood pressure and lowers the risk of cognitive decline. It’s packed with over 20 vitamins and nutrients and could help prevent childhood obesity since it satisfies your child’s hunger for longer.
These foods, when included as part of a balanced diet are a great way to ensure the brain health of your child- but it is important to combine these with healthy lifestyle habits to reap its benefits. Eating too much or too little can also have a detrimental effect on your focus and attention. Make sure your body is well-rested and fit enough for it to help your brain perform at peak capacity on your big day!