Food for Thought: Brain-Boosting Foods to Keep You Focused During Finals

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Food next to a keyboard


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With the stress of final exams getting to the best of us, it can be difficult to stay focused, finish up those term papers, and study like there's no tomorrow.

Even if you're camping out in the library 24/7, it's important to stick to a well-balanced diet in order to stay healthy and keep your mind sharp. In fact, some foods can even improve concentration, which will definitely keep you on your A-game during this often stressful time.

Below, we've listed several super foods that will help you to maintain focus throughout finals. Scroll down to see them all:

Walnuts

Walnut half


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Cleverly enough, these funky shaped nuts look just like a brain – and that's exactly what they're good for! While all nuts are great-tasting sources of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, walnuts are the only type that contain alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acids that benefits memory and cognitive functioning.

Alpha-linolenic acid, as well as the many polyphenols that walnuts contain, also protect the brain from free radical damage and degeneration. Munch on a handful or sprinkle them over salads, cereal, or yogurt to add an extra crunch to your day!

Blueberries

Blueberries


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While all berries are excellent nutrient sources, this blue variety is especially powerful. Blueberries are teeming with antioxidants and flavonoids that protect the brain from damaging free radicals, improve learning, memory, and cognitive processing, and enhance problem solving, critical reasoning, and information recall.

These little blue beauties taste great on their own, but also make a great addition to salads, yogurt, and cereal. If fresh fruit is difficult to find, check out the freezer aisle at your local supermarket and you'll likely find packages of frozen berries. Simply place them in a bowl of water to thaw them out or eat them straight from the package for a sweet frozen treat.

Salmon

Raw salmon


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This next super food is a real catch! Salmon, as well as other fatty fishes like herring and sardines, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are key compounds for improving memory and focus. These fatty acids are also important for developing healthy brain tissue and combatting against free radicals.

Wild-caught salmon is your best option, but if fresh fish is hard to come by, check next to the canned tuna at your local grocery store for either cans or convenient on-the-go pouches of cooked salmon that can be mixed into salads or spread onto sandwiches for a protein-rich, brain fueling meal.

Spinach

Spinach leaves


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While it is generally advisable not to take diet advice from a cartoon character, Popeye was really on to something when using spinach to power up.

This leafy green vegetable is high in lutein, an antioxidant that supports healthy cognitive functioning, as well as potassium, which helps maintain strong electrical signals between brain cells that enable us to think quickly and clearly.

Spinach is also a great source of folate, which maintains healthy brain circulation and protects the brain from oxidative stress. Simply substitute baby spinach leaves in place of lettuce for a nutrient-packed salad that's sure to boost your brain power!

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate


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Indulge your sweet tooth with this savory super food! Dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage of 70% or more is packed with flavonoids and polyphenols that enhance cognitive functioning, concentration, and blood flow to the brain.

Dark chocolate also contains caffeine, a natural stimulant that helps improve focus. As with other sweets, however, make sure to eat dark chocolate in moderation in order to maintain a healthy diet.

Water

Water bottles


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Okay, so technically water can't be classified as a super food, but it is so important for maintaining optimal health that it had to be included on this list.

Since water makes up about 85% of the brain, dehydration significantly causes brain tissue to shrink, thus impairing memory, focus, and decision making. Without staying adequately hydrated, our ability to concentrate rapidly declines as well, so drink up!

A general rule of thumb is that your body needs one half ounce of water for every pound you weigh. To make sure you are drinking enough H2O, divide your weight in half and aim to drink that number of ounces of water each day. If you exercise, live in a hot and/or dry climate, or are feeling under the weather, be sure to drink more in order to compensate for extra water loss.

What Do You Think?

Do you eat anything in particular to keep you focused? Tried any of these super foods and found them helpful? Let me know in the comments below!