Brain Food
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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Brain Food


This post is in response to a question I got about foods to eat to increase brain activity to get better grades and retain more when studying. Many people are searching for ways to keep their brains sharp as they age or to boost their brain power for school or work. While I cannot promise increasing your IQ, let me tell you about a few interesting foods that might just help you ace that next test.

Choline. This is an essential nutrient that we don’t hear a lot about. It has been shown to help with memory and can be found in egg yolks (not in the white), peanuts/peanut butter, lettuce (even iceberg), cauliflower, and soy lecithin.

Omega-3 fatty acids. These “healthy fats” are good for brain development and function. Specifically, the DHA in omega-3’s is found in the brain and studies show that omega-3’s may actually help build brain’s gray matter. Omega-3’s are found in fatty fish like sardines or salmon, fortified eggs, or ground flax seeds.

Antioxidants and phytochemicals. They keep your brain sharp and may help preserve brain cells. Foods highest include berries, legumes (beans), artichokes, leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Folic acid (aka folate). Folate has been shown to improve cognitive function and may help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Folate can be found in oranges, beans, spinach, eggs, strawberries, sunflower seeds, fortified grains

Also has potential
Some evidence is emerging that green tea (phytochemicals) may also help reduce cognitive decline as you age. Also interesting is some research on curry and tumeric that may clear out a substance in the brain that promotes plaque formation. Look for more studies in the future looking at both of these.

Translate into meals and snacks:

Smoked salmon and eggs with whole grain toast and papaya (see picture above)

Eggs on whole wheat toast with an orange


Peanut butter on whole wheat toast with some strawberries


Smoothie of soy milk, fresh berries, and a tablespoon of soy lecithin granules and a tablespoon of ground flaxseed


Salad (iceberg lettuce and spinach) with kidney beans, hard boiled egg, cauliflower, artichokes, sunflower seeds, and grilled salmon

Keep it coming
I talked in my posts last week about snacking and importance of eating something small every 3-4 hours. Keep glucose going to the brain on a consistent basis while studying, sitting in class, or working at your desk. Eating frequent, small meals and snacks will be one of the best habits you can get into to increase your brain power!



Photo courtesy of avlxyz
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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