• Ruth Capistrano, Writer; Lauren Macaisa

Fueling for Finals Week at the Osprey Café

It’s that time of year again- finals week! But not to worry, the UNF Osprey café has your back, providing you with plenty of foods to fuel your brain {and body} to keep your mind sharp and ready to ace your exams!

A well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise is important for academic success all semester long. However, during finals week and the weeks leading up to it, we can sometimes forget to fuel our bodies with the nutrients that it needs to function at its best and give ourselves enough time to exercise. If you want to make sure that your brain is fueled properly, then check out the great options at the Osprey Café to make sure that you give your brain the energy that it needs to do well on your exams and finish the semester strong.

Many Whole grains such as oats, rye, barley, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, some rice varieties are known to have a low glycemic index. Meaning glucose is released slowly into the bloodstream, helping you stay mentally alert throughout the day.[1] Sources of whole grains that you can find in the café include whole grain bread, bagels, cereals, quinoa, rice, and pasta. You can find them at the 'action stations', at the salad bar or in the 'kitchen.'

Another brain food item that is always available in the café is coffee. It is no secret that the coffee contains caffeine, which helps to keep your mind awake and alert. Caffeine works together with the antioxidants in coffee to keep you awake and improve concentration, and also keeps you alert by blocking adenosine in the brain, a chemical that causes drowsiness. Caffeine boosts serotonin, a “feel good” neurotransmitter that, when released, can improve your mood.[2] The Osprey Café always has plenty of coffee available for students, just make sure to consume less than 4 cups daily to avoid restlessness, along with other serious symptoms.

Chocolate, particularly Dark Chocolate, is commonly called a brain food because it increases alertness and contains antioxidants. Its stimulating properties are similar to that of a cup of coffee and may promote the same concentration-boosting benefits.[3] Whether you choose chocolate or coffee to keep you awake to study the night before your exam, make sure you’re aware of the overall sugar and caloric content you are taking in!

Yet another brain superfood always present in the café happens to be a popular salad garnish: the Walnut. According to the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, participants who consistently ate walnuts performed significantly better in memory and comprehension tests compared to those who stayed away from the nut. And the best part is that you don't need a whole lot of nuts to get all of the benefits! All you need is a handful of walnuts (seven specifically, if you really want to keep count) once a day to improve your mental acuity. High levels of antioxidants and a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are what give this nut its amazing brain building properties. The walnut has the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids than any other type of nut.[4] So next time you chow down you on a salad or just need an afternoon snack, make sure to sprinkle in some brain-healthy walnuts.

Hopefully now you can round out your stash of study supplies. Highlighters? Check! Flashcards? Check! Walnuts? Check! Coffee? Multigrain bagel? Check and check! The memory- and concentration-boosting benefits of what you eat are just as important as that study guide your professor handed out in class. So the next time you crack open the textbook, don’t forget to start munching away!

Be on the lookout for these awesome brain foods at the café during this finals season and as always, Stay Healthy Ospreys!


1. 10 foods to boost your brainpower | BBC Good Food. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2018, from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-foods-boost-your-brainpower

2. Ruxton, C. H. S. (2008). The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin, 33(1), 15–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x

3. B. L. (2017). Brain-Boosting Chocolate? Nutrition Action Health Letter, 44(2): 4-4. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/results?vid=0&sid=64241f84-ce93-482d-8c8282a99edbc65e%40sdcvsessmgr05&bquery=brain%2Bsuperfoods&bdata=JmNsaTA9RlQxJmNsdjA9WSZ0eXBlPTAmc2l0ZT1lZHMtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl.

4. Massachusetts General Hospital. (2015). Walnuts: Superfood for the brain: inexpensive, widely available, and nutrient-dense, this is a miracle brainbooster that literally grows on trees. Mind, Mood & Memory, 11(10): 6-6. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=7&sid=4aa8a322-04724f8ab2de4beaa348b0bf%40sessionmgr101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN=109514186&db=edb

#Chocolate #OspreyCafe #finalsweek #wholegrains #coffee #examweek

UNF Dining Services' Dietitian

Email Yemila: y.lowry@unf.edu

Bldg 8/1210-J

1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224