8 foods to feed your brain during exams

8 foods to feed your brain during exams
8 foods to feed your brain during exams

The food you put into your body can have a huge impact on how your brain works. This is important to remember around exam time, when you are probably paying more attention to books than brekkie.

Learn how the food you eat affects your body so you can choose foods that improve your memory, fuel your brain and help you smash your study schedule.

Mbali Mapholi, who is a clinical and consultant dietitian affectionately known as the Urban Dietitian, says following a healthy dietary pattern is important when you are studying and taking exams.

Mapholi says although an overall healthy diet and lifestyle is important, research shows that certain foods may help enhance performance, which makes them an excellent choice for students both full-time and part-time students sitting for exams.

She notes that if you are looking to enhance your performance or help somebody else sitting for exams with their mental performance and improving overall health, the food items stated below can be beneficial.

1. Eggs

Eggs are packed with essential nutrients which may help boost brain health due to the concentration of nutrients, including vitamin B12, choline, and selenium, found within the egg, especially the egg yolk. Choose to eat whole eggs instead of only egg whites for optimal brain health and nutritional benefit.

2. Beetroot

Beetroot is rich in nitrates, which may help improve blood flow to the brain, nerve cell communication, and overall brain health. Studies have linked beet juice consumption to improved performance on tests. You can add beetroot into your salads or as a salad itself, or drink as beetroot juice shots.

3. Berries

Berries, for example, strawberries, blueberries, and mulberries contain compounds, including anthocyanins, that may enhance mental performance. You can snack on berries as they are, add them to plain yoghurt for extra benefit, and add them in your smoothies, frozen or fresh, to give your diet that berry boost, which is beneficial for mental performance.

4. Green tea

Green tea contains both caffeine and l-theanine, making it a great study aid that can help boost your brainpower. The caffeine content in green tea is in the right amount to improve brain performance but still induce a state of calm and focus. In addition, green tea contains especially high amounts of catechin, known as EGCG, which may be beneficial for learning and memory. Choosing green tea offerings with added vitamins, for example, vitamin B5 and vitamin C, offer that extra nutritional benefit for overall good health.

5. Nuts and nut butter

Nuts are nutrient-dense and contain vitamins and minerals essential to brain health, including vitamin E and zinc. Eating nuts may help improve overall mental status. You can eat nuts as a snack, add in smoothies and salads or use peanut butter as a spread or dip.

6. Chocolate and cocoa products

Chocolate and cocoa products are loaded with flavonoid compounds. Consuming cocoa products may help increase blood flow to your brain and improve your memory and reaction time. Choose chocolate that is at least 75% cacao for the full nutritional benefit.

7. Oily fish

Adding fish and seafood to your diet may enhance memory and boost overall brain health. Eating fish may also help slow mental decline. You can aim to have at least three servings of oily fish a week, which can be part of main meals or snacks, for example, sardines on toast with an avocado spread.

8. Avocado

Avocados are an excellent source of lutein, a carotenoid that accumulates in your brain and eyes and may positively influence brain function. They’re very versatile and can be eaten in several ways, including mashed into guacamole, spread on toast, or simply enjoyed whole with a bit of salt. As a convenient study snack, they may also help boost your brain function.


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