If you were training for an athletic event, you would treat your body well. In addition to practicing regularly and getting enough rest, you would offer your body the nutrition it needs to perform optimally.
But when it comes to academic performance, many of us forget that the brain needs the right fuel to function at its best. It’s just another part of our bodies, after all. As you prepare for college entrance exams (or college itself), it definitely can’t hurt to ensure that you’re seeking adequate nutrition.
Certain foods are known to reduce cellular stress and inflammation in the body, help to build and repair brain cells, and possibly even boost memory and cognitive function. So if you’re looking to gain an edge on your next big test, or just get healthier in general, include the following foods in your regular diet.
Oily fish. When we say “oily”, we’re talking about omega-3 fatty acids. Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are high in this nutrient.
Nuts and seeds. If you’d rather stick to plant-based sources of omega-3s, seek out walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Other sources of unsaturated fats. Avocados, soybean oils, olive oils, cashews, or peanuts are more good sources of unsaturated fats.
Whole grains. Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, and whole grain pastas contain vitamin E, which some studies suggest contributes to improved cognitive function.
Caffeine. A small amount of caffeine can boost processing power in some people. But we really must emphasize the words, “small amount”. Overdo it, and you might crash and burn.
Eggs. Eggs are good sources of several B vitamins, all of which are linked to healthy brain function.
Broccoli and kale. Broccoli and kale contain compounds that reduce oxidative stress in the body, protecting brain cells from damage.
Soy products. Soy products contain polyphenols, which can improve cognitive abilities. But don’t overdo it, since soy also mimics estrogen in the body and can result in hormonal disruption in some people.
Berries. Berries contain some of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any foods. Various studies have linked these antioxidants to reduced inflammation, improved communication between brain cells, and increased brain plasticity.
Chocolate. Cacao also contains valuable antioxidants, but remember that milk chocolate contains relatively low levels of cacao. Look for dark chocolate instead, which contains more cacao but lower levels of sugar (which isn’t good for anyone).
All of these foods are great additions to your diet anyway, but you might find that they improve your memory and cognitive function. If you’re tempted to try supplements instead, remember to share this information with your parents and/or doctor. In certain situations supplements can cause complications or interact with other medications that you might be taking.