Finals Week: Food for Thought
My grandmother once told me that vegetables that look like organs actually help the body part they resemble.
For example, walnuts look like brains so they help boost your brainpower while tomatoes help the heart because they resemble the chambers of a heart when cut open. While I love Grandma, and I’m fairly certain this is not at all supported by fact, there are plenty of foods that help boost your energy and brain. Their effects are supported by research, and many of these healthy options help in more than one area.
“Omega-3 fatty acids — found in salmon, walnuts and kiwi fruit — provide many benefits, including improving learning and memory and helping to fight against such mental disorders as depression and mood disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia,” said Gmez-Pinilla, a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center.
Oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers, can help provide the Omega-3 fatty acids and can be prepared however you like.
If you like flavorful international food that contains turmeric, like curry, you can also help improve your brain. One German study found that “a compound found in turmeric could encourage the growth of nerve cells thought to be part of the brain’s repair kit.”
Research also suggests a compound found in turmeric could encourage the growth of nerve cells.
“Previous studies suggest the other compound, cumin, could reduce inflammation in the body and have anti-cancer benefits.”
Seeds and nuts also help your brain stay active as good sources of “protein, minerals, vitamin E, omega-6 fatty acids and some essential amino acids.”
It’s also important to be able to keep going throughout the day.
According to the BBC, “The ability to concentrate and focus comes from the adequate, steady supply of energy — in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain. Achieve this by choosing whole grains with a low-GI, which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day.”
Whole grain alternatives are available at every grocery store and most restaurants. They will help you keep up your energy.
Eating breakfast is also proven to help keep you going throughout the day. According to The Science of Nutrition, “Breakfast consumption reduces the physical symptoms of stomach pain, headache, muscle tension, and fatigue, all of which interfere with learning.”
Most people know healthy eating can help performance, but its human nature to want what we should not, like chocolate, wine, cupcakes, and donuts.
The best vehicle for a healthy dose of energy is “definitely not a chocolate…because fat stalls the energizing effects of glucose,” said psychologists Paul Gold and Donna Korol from Binghamton University and Carol Manning from the University of Virginia.
Choosing healthy options and avoiding junk food can help students’ memories and perhaps score higher on their finals.
So don’t forget to put away that candy bar.