Eating foods such as fatty fish rich in omega-3, nuts, and leafy greens – as well as a hearty cup of coffee – can boost your cognitive functions. Besides that, they'll make a great meal at any time of day, so you can eat healthy and delicious food while feeling the positive mental effects.
1. Fatty fish. When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is often at the top of the list. This type of fish includes salmon, trout, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines, all of which are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids ( 1 ).
Certain fruits such as oranges, bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries, contain high amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps prevent brain cells from becoming damaged and supports overall brain health. In fact, a study found that vitamin C can potentially prevent Alzheimer's.
Hepatic encephalopathy is a nervous system disorder brought on by severe liver disease. When the liver doesn't work properly, toxins build up in the blood. These toxins can travel to the brain and affect brain function. People with hepatic encephalopathy may seem confused.
Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds—pick your favorite, then add it to your brain food snacks for the day. Eat them raw and unsalted, or swap out a handful of nuts for a healthy scoop of your favorite nut butter. Nuts and seeds are easy to travel with and are found in every country.
Eating a banana will give your brain the healthy, natural, low GI sugar that it needs during exam time. Plus bananas also make you happy, literally! Bananas contain high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid, which is converted into serotonin in your body.
Here are just a few key ways coffee can support the brain: Caffeine increases serotonin and acetylcholine, which may stimulate the brain and help stabilize the blood-brain barrier. The polyphenol micronutrients in coffee may prevent tissue damage by free radicals, as well as brain blood vessel blockage.
"Eating a rainbow of colors — just a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, and all the nutrition they offer — gives your brain the fuel it needs for the day," says Dr. Wright. "The brain is the highest energy-utilizing organ in our bodies. You feed it the right fuel, you really do it favors."
Like matcha, green tea contains a potent combo of both caffeine and l-theanine, making it a great study aid that can help boost your brainpower and induce a state of calm and focus. In addition, green tea contains especially high amounts of a catechin known as EGCG, which may be beneficial for learning and memory.
Studies have shown that people with high intakes of saturated and trans (which occur in hydrogenated vegetable oils) fats in their diet have a higher risk of developing dementia, while people with a diet that favours unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats have a lower risk.
Nuts like almonds, pistachios and macadamias each bring something special to the table. Almonds help improve memory, pistachio nut oils help preserve fatty acids and prevent inflammation, and macadamias contribute to normal brain function.