There is no magic pill that you can pop to increase your brainpower or boost your memory. But students often wish for such short-cuts that would help them cram during last minute studies. We can’t offer you such pills or steroids but we can vouch for the positive effects of healthy eating on keeping your brain active.
Here are 8 food items that you must include in your daily meals to make sure that your brain is getting the best fuel to keep it recharged:
1. Whole Grains
Healthy food grain options like wheat, barley, oats, brown rice and food items made out of these are the best source of energy that steadily release glucose into our body and helps us stay alert and active throughout the day. They are also a great source of fibre. In short, stick to mom's parathas, rotis & rice dishes!
2. Green and leafy vegetables
Your mom insists on eating your quota of greens everyday for a valid reason – green leafy vegetables are nutrition powerhouses which include minerals (iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins (B, K, C, E). The best options we have include spinach (remember Popeye’s exaggerated muscles?), cabbage, broccoli etc.
Betalain, which gives beetroots their blood red colour, is rich in antioxidants – which boost brainpower. There are natural nitrates in beets that can increase blood flow to the brain, thereby improving mental performance. Beets are also high in folic acid, vitamins A, B-1, B-2 and C, and essential minerals including iron, calcium and potassium.
Known as Nilabadari, Feera or Falsa, blueberries are like magic pills – they are packed with vitamin C, full of fibre and manganese. They have antioxidant properties as well cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. It is the antioxidants in the blueberries that give them their trademark blue hue.
5. Oily Fish
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are good for healthy brain function,a are not naturally produced in the body. These omega 3 fatty acids are found in oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines etc.
The yolk (yellow part) of eggs is an excellent source of choline which is a precursor for acetylcholine that helps you remember stuff like where you misplaced your Chemistry textbook. Have eggs for breakfast to improve your overall cognitive performance.
It helps if you’re nuts over nuts, as they’re full of health benefits! Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E which helps to prevent cognitive decline. Almonds are high in the antioxidants selenium and vitamin E. No wonder our mothers and grannies insisted on feeding us almonds soaked in water overnight! Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. So if you feel like snacking while studying for exams, grab a handful of nuts and munch away!
8. Dark Chocolate
And finally some good news for those with a sweet-tooth. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. It also contains caffeine, a mild stimulant.