When you’re a student trying to memorize and understand a lot of new information, it’s important to keep your health in top shape. Staying healthy can promote academic performance and help you reach your educational goals.
Although an overall healthy diet is most important for keeping your body and brain nourished and ready to take on difficult tasks, research shows that certain foods may be especially important for brain health and promoting mental performance.
The following foods have been linked to improved brain health and make excellent choices when you’re cramming for an exam.
Here are the top 9 brain foods for studying.
LA and ALA recommended sufficient intakes of 4 and 0.5 percent of total energy, respectively, from the European Food Safety Authority. The recommended daily intake for EPA and DHA was 250 mg. Additionally, it was found that the average daily consumption of total omega-3 in Europe ranged from 0.7 to 1.3 percent of total calories. The average daily consumption for EPA and DHA was determined to be between 20 and 40 mg and less than 100 to 130 mg, respectively.
Most people’s intakes are too low, thus most people would benefit from increasing their intake of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. This can be accomplished, for instance, by eating fatty fish once or twice a week and sometimes substituting rapeseed oil for sunflower oil.
SUMMARY: Berries contain compounds, including anthocyanins, that may enhance mental performance.
2. Citrus fruits
Due to their high nutritional value, citrus fruits have been connected to a number of health advantages, including the support of brain function.
Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, which are similar to berries, are abundant in flavonoids, including hesperidin, naringin, quercetin, and rutin, among others (6Trusted Source).
These substances could be able to prevent nerve cell damage, improve learning and memory, and prevent learning (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Citrus fruit juice may help to improve mental performance, according to studies.
A test that involves matching symbols to numbers was conducted on 40 young individuals, and the results revealed that drinking 17 ounces (500 mL) of 100% orange and grapefruit juice increased blood flow to the brain and considerably improved performance when compared to a control drink.
Taking 17 ounces (500 mL) of 100% orange juice every day for eight weeks, as opposed to a control beverage, considerably enhanced overall brain function, according to the results of another study on 37 older persons.
Whole citrus fruits are also great sources of flavonoids and can be eaten as a snack while studying or getting ready for a test, even though fruit juices are more concentrated forms of these potentially brain-health supporting substances.
To make your snack more satiating, combine citrus fruits and citrus juice with a source of protein and healthy fat, such as mixed nuts.
SUMMARY: Studies show that citrus fruit intake may help boost mental performance and improve overall brain function.
3. Dark chocolate and cocoa products
Since cocoa has the highest flavonoid concentration of any food by weight, foods made from cocoa, like chocolate, greatly increase dietary consumption of flavonoids. Consuming flavonoid-rich cocoa products may benefit the health of the brain.
In one trial, 90 older persons with mild cognitive impairment consumed a cocoa beverage once daily for eight weeks at concentrations of 45 mg, 520 mg, or 990 mg of cocoa flavonoids.
People who drank the high flavonoid beverage fared noticeably better on mental tests than those who were given the low flavonoid beverage at the conclusion of the trial.
Additionally, the moderate and high flavonoid groups exhibited better insulin sensitivity, which was postulated to be the main factor causing the enhanced brain function. A hormone called insulin aids in transferring blood sugar into cells where it may be used as fuel.
According to another research, drinking cocoa may improve cerebral blood flow, lessen mental tiredness, and improve memory and reaction times when performing mental tasks.
Fascinatingly, flavonoids have the ability to pass across the blood-brain barrier, a semipermeable membrane that shields your brain, and work directly on regions of the brain that regulate memory and focus.
SUMMARY; 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.
Zinc and vitamin E are two elements that are abundant in nuts and are vital for brain function. Additionally, they are adaptable and portable, making them a great option for study snacks.
Nuts are concentrated amounts of fiber, protein, and healthy fats that can keep you energized during long study sessions. Additionally, some studies suggest that nibbling on nuts may even assist to improve some elements of brain function.
According to a study involving 64 college students, including walnuts in the diet for eight weeks significantly improved verbal information interpretation by 11.2% when compared to a placebo.
Another investigation of 317 kids revealed that eating nuts increased their reaction times and brain test performance.
Furthermore, a population-based study of 15,467 women found eating at least 5 servings of nuts per week was associated with having a better general state of mind.
SUMMARY: 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.
Due to the range of nutrients they contain, eggs are frequently referred to as nature’s multivitamin. They are particularly abundant in vitamins and minerals that are important for brain health, such as selenium, choline, and vitamin B12.
For instance, although choline is required for brain development and the generation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for memory storage and muscle function, selenium is involved in coordination, memory, cognition, and motor performance.
Having insufficient levels of vitamin B12 inhibits brain function and is crucial for maintaining neurological health (
Additionally, eggs contain lutein, a carotenoid pigment linked to enhanced mental and visual performance.
To reap the potential benefits of eating whole eggs rather than simply egg whites, though, is necessary.
In one study of 19 children and adolescents, eating egg yolks was linked to better short-term memory, attention, and learning scores than eating egg whites. However, the Egg Nutrition Center provided funding for this study, which could have had an impact on the results.
SUMMARY: Eating whole eggs may help boost brain health due to the concentration of nutrients, including vitamin B12, choline, and selenium, found within the yolk.
Avocados are adaptable fruits that can be eaten in a variety of ways, such as spread over toast, mashed into guacamole, or simply eaten whole with a little salt. In addition to being a practical study snack, they might improve your cognitive abilities.
They are a great source of lutein, a pigment that builds up in the brain and eyes and may have a good impact on brain function.
According to a study on 84 adults, those who consumed a meal that included fresh avocados for 12 weeks had higher levels of lutein in their blood and performed better on mental tests.
However, the Hass Avocado Board funded the study, which could have had an impact on the results.
Nevertheless, higher blood lutein levels and lutein intake have been linked to generally superior mental function.
SUMMARY: Some research has shown that eating carotenoid-rich avocados may help improve mental performance.
Essential fats called omega-3s have a significant impact on the health of the brain. They are rich in fatty fish, which are also great suppliers of other nutrients that support brain health, such as selenium and vitamin B12.
It’s hardly shocking that several studies have connected fish consumption to improved brain function.
One research of 76 Japanese individuals found that eating more fish was associated with improved memory and brain function.
Another study including more than 17,000 pupils discovered that compared to those who had little to no fish, those who consumed 8 grams of fish daily significantly performed better in German and mathematics.
The researchers hypothesized that this reduction in connection in the highest category of fish intake may be related to a higher intake of mercury and other dangerous contaminants prevalent in seafood.
Since fish contains a concentrated amount of vital nutrients, such as omega-3 fats, additional studies have connected fish consumption to higher brain performance and slower mental aging.
SUMMARY: Adding fish and seafood to your diet may enhance memory and boost overall brain health. Eating fish may also help slow mental decline.
The body turns the nitrates found in beets and beet products into the nitric oxide molecule. Your health depends on nitric oxide for a variety of reasons, including healthy blood flow, brain function, and nerve cell communication.
In certain studies, eating nitrate-rich beets and beet products has been linked to benefits in brain function.
In comparison to a placebo, consuming 5 ounces (150 mL) of beet juice significantly enhanced both age groups’ mental test reaction times and blood nitrate content in a research including 24 younger and older persons.
When compared to a placebo, a second trial involving 40 individuals indicated that consuming 15 ounces (450 mL) of beet juice increased blood flow to the brain and enhanced performance on a subtraction test.
By eating roasted beets with a meal before an exam or sipping on fresh beet juice while you study, you can enhance the amount of nitrates in your diet.
SUMMARY: Beets are 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.
9. Red, green, and orange vegetables
Generally speaking, eating more vegetables is linked to improved brain function and the improvement of general wellness.
Vegetables that are red, orange, or green, such as peppers, carrots, and broccoli, include a number of advantageous plant substances, such as carotenoid pigments, which have been demonstrated to improve mental performance.
Your retinas build up lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids. Macular pigment optical density is the name given to this accumulation (MPOD).
MPOD was found to be substantially correlated with brain function and intellectual ability in a study of 51 kids aged 7 to 13.
Another research of 56 kids aged 8 to 9 indicated that MPOD was favorably correlated with scholastic achievement.
On the other hand, poor MPOD has been associated with poorer mental performance. Lower MPOD was linked to worse performance on mental tasks, worse memory, and shorter reaction time, according to a study of 4,453 adults.
Kale, parsley, spinach, basil, peas, leeks, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, and green and red peppers are some of the foods that are highest in lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in eggs and pistachios.
Add chopped red pepper, sliced carrots, and hard-boiled eggs to a large spinach and herb salad for a filling pre-study-session lunch that is high in brain-health supporting carotenoids.
To add more protein and good fats, dress the salad with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar and a small handful of chopped pistachios.
SUMMARY: Increasing your intake of carotenoid-rich red, green, and orange vegetables can help improve your overall nutrient intake and may help boost your brain health.
The bottom line
It’s crucial to maintain a healthy eating routine while you’re studying and taking tests.
Though maintaining a generally healthy diet and lifestyle is most crucial, research indicates that some foods may improve mental function, making them a great option for students.
Try including a few of the foods mentioned above in your diet if you want to boost your general health and mental function.