Brain Food: What to Eat Before School, Tests or Work

The transition from high school to college is a major step in the life of any young adult. From the rigors of college coursework to work-study jobs and the demands and temptations of new independence, this can be a challenging, exciting time. While nutrition might be the furthest thing from your mind, it’s good to get some basic knowledge on which foods can give you a “Brain Boost” when you need it the most.

Green Tea

This powerful super drink has long been touted as a cure-all for everything from obesity to memory loss. But, according to a recent compilation of data by Vanderbilt University, the science does suggest that green tea offers significant benefits to helping your brain focus, concentrate, and combat memory loss. This can be a boon for busy students tasked with studying for multiple finals, especially since green tea is usually gentler on the stomach and tends to not cause the same jitters and anxiety that heavy coffee consumption can cause.

Bountiful Blueberrieshandful-of-blueberries-brain-food

Sure, you’ve heard about the importance of eating fresh fruits and veggies from your parents your whole life, but there is actually plenty of evidence to suggest that eating dark fruits, like blueberries, can help improve your cognition. WebMD reports that dark fruits contain huge stores of antioxidants, which help improve brain function as well as a host of other important body systems. The World’s Healthiest Foods report compiles data on a number of healthy dark fruits and recently reported on the benefits of eating raw blueberries for cognitive function and memory.

Eat Your Greens

Dark vegetables, like spinach, broccoli and beans, also contain powerful nutrients for better brain health. WebMD cites these vegetables in particular for their stores of B vitamins, which can help boost energy levels and improve your memory. When you’re stressing over writing a paper and simultaneously filling out a job application form, a healthy dinner of steamed greens, complex carbs and lean protein can help you stay alert and focused without having to turn to a sugary energy drink.

Complex Carbohydratesfood_crop380w

In recent years, carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, but the truth is that carbs are essential fuel for our brains. The Mayo Clinic reports that healthy complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal, steel cut oats or whole wheat breads and pastas, can actually increase serotonin levels in the brain, which helps you feel calm and less anxious on the day of a big test. Resist the urge to pull an all-nighter and go into the exam room on an empty stomach. Instead, get some rest and wake up to a breakfast that will give your brain what it needs to perform well on the big day.

Energizing Protein

College life is all about balance from your schedule to your diet, and protein is a key element for keeping your body full of stamina for the busy schedule of work, fun and studying that college requires. Remember to choose lean proteins like fish, chicken or lean red meats. Vegetarian options include beans, legumes, nuts and certain grains like quinoa or brown rice, plus meat alternatives such as soy products, tempeh or seitan.

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