Final exams week is fast approaching which means you will need as much brain power as possible to combat the hours upon hours of studying. Unlike computers, we unfortunately don't have a refresh button to press when our brain gets tired and overworked.
So what are our options? One of the best ways to achieve optimal brain function is through food and nutrition! Have you ever heard the phrase “a healthy gut equals a healthy brain” or the terms “superfoods” and “brain foods”? These mean that there are certain foods you can eat that can stimulate brain function and, in turn will help boost your memory and performance.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that contains these superfoods can help you power through your final exams!
Have you ever suffered from brain fog? Well, one of the reasons this could be happening is that you may have high amounts of oxidative stress in your body. One way to combat this is by eating blueberries since they are an antioxidant powerhouse. Antioxidants are what fight off the body’s natural production of free radicals to help neutralize the body’s bloodstream. The body does not produce enough antioxidants on its own, so it is imperative that you consume foods that contain these components, such as blueberries! Having a more neutral bloodstream has proven to combat oxidative stress produced by free radicals and in turn produces more brain clarity!
A great way to consume blueberries is raw, either on their own or in cereal and oatmeal. You can also eat them dried or frozen is a smoothie.
Portion size= raw/frozen ½ cup, dried ¼ cup
Cranberries are also an antioxidant superfood that not only combats oxidative stress, but also has be proven to be beneficial in promoting bladder and stomach health.(1)
They are rich in Vitamin C (an antioxidant) and contain small amounts of fiber, manganese, vitamin K and vitamin E (an antioxidant). Cranberries contain a compound called ursolic acid, which has be shown to protect brain cells from injury and degeneration.(2)
You can eat cranberries raw (chopped) or dried. They pair well with yogurt and almost any salad.
Portion Size= raw ½ cup, dried ¼ cup
Kale is a dark green leafy vegetable that is loaded with vitamin A, B complex vitamins and vitamin C. One serving size of kale can fulfill your vitamin A needs for the entire day! As stated earlier, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which means kale is also very healthy for your brain. It is also rich in beta carotene, copper, iron, manganese, and fiber.
There are so many great ways to eat kale. You can use it as your lettuce base in a salad or add it raw directly into your smoothie. You can even add it to soups!
Portion size: 2 cups raw, 1 cup cooked
If you are having trouble memorizing your note cards, try taking a shot of wheatgrass (at Jamba Juice!) to boost your memory and cognitive function. Wheatgrass is rich in vitamin K which supports brain cell growth. It also has a high amount of vitamin C and folate.
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are nutrient-rich because they contain high amounts of omega-3 ALA fats, fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, copper and potassium. Super healthy for you! Also, Omega-3's are specifically linked with healthy brain function!
Chia seeds are often soaked before eating as this makes them easier to digest and provides the most nutrients to the seeds. Chia seeds are often used to add protein and texture to pudding, oatmeal, muffins, and smoothies.
Portion Size= 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons
2. Flax Seeds
Originating back to Ancient Greece, flax seeds are known to be one of the original superfoods. These tiny seeds are packed with many brain-stimulating nutrients such as fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants.
The seeds come from the flower of the flax plant and are commonly eaten whole or ground in cooking and baking. Flax seeds are commonly used as a topping for smoothies, an egg replacer in baked goods, and in granola.
Portion Size= 2 tablespoons ground or raw
Try incorporating these brain foods into your everyday diet and especially during finals week to boost your memory and brain performance. You can certainly find them at our dining locations!
Good luck on your final exams, Ospreys!
Hess MJ, Hess PE, Sullivan MR, Nee M, Yalla SV. Evaluation of cranberry tablets for the prevention of urinary tract infections in spinal cord injured patients with neurogenic bladder. Spinal Cord. 2008;46(9):622-626.
Kim E, Sy-Cordero A, Graf T, Brantley S, Paine M, Oberlies N. Isolation and identification of intestinal CYP3A inhibitors from cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) using human intestinal microsomes. Planta Medica. 2010;77(03):265-270.