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Brain Food Part 2

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The most popular blog post we published last year was Florence’s post about ‘brain food’ – which featured her top five things to eat or drink when revising: oily fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables, peanut butter, and coffee. Not a bad mixture of options – lots of great vitamins and nutrients in there to keep your brain functioning at its best, while also keeping your stomach full, taste buds satisfied and eyes open!

As it’s still the season for New Year’s Resolutions, this is a great time to give your student diet a bit of a boost in the right direction. So, here are another five great ‘brain food’ ideas to add to your shopping list, to help make sure you’re ready to start another year of studies full of energy and with your concentration powers at their peak.

1. Whole grains

One of the best ways to keep your energy levels stable – rather than being hyperactive one minute and slumped over your desk the next – is to eat more whole grains. This could mean choosing whole grain pasta, brown bread, brown rice, whole grain breakfast cereals and so on. Whole grains make great brain food because they have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they release glucose into the bloodstream slowly, maintaining your energy levels for longer. They’ve also been found to have all kinds of other health benefits – including lowering the risk of heart disease and of type 2 diabetes.

2. Nuts and seeds

Next, nuts and seeds: perfect for carrying with you during the day in case you need a quick pick-me-up. (You can probably even get away with munching on a few during lectures or at the library without attracting disapproving glares.) Different types of nuts and seeds are rich in different nutrients, bringing all kinds of long-term health perks – you really can’t go wrong, so just pick the ones that make your taste buds smile! (My favorites are probably cashews.) You can also add nuts and seeds to stir-fries, salads, breakfast cereals or desserts for an extra bit of flavor and nutrition.

3. Dried fruit

Like nuts and seeds, dried fruit is also a perfect snacking food for students (or anyone). It’s full of vitamins and good slow-burning energy, and really portable – so you can always keep a pack with you. (Fresh fruit is also amazing of course, but as anyone who’s ever forgotten about that banana/kiwi/pear will know, it doesn’t always travel well…) Just try to avoid buying dried fruit that comes with added sugar – the aim is to avoid the sugar high that inevitably ends in an energy slump. And if you’re feeling really enterprising, you can even try making your own. Yum!

4. Water

This one might seem a little odd – after all, if you weren’t taking in any water you’d be in pretty serious trouble! The point is that staying hydrated is really important for brain function – as soon as your brain becomes dehydrated, it slows down and you start to feel tired, mentally slower and even irritable. It can be all too easy to forget to keep sipping, especially if you’re flat out against a deadline or rushing between lectures or lab sessions – and unfortunately coffee and fizzy drinks won’t do the job. Get into the habit of keeping a refillable water bottle with you and make sure you stay topped up throughout the day; even if you’re not aware of feeling thirsty, you will notice a difference.

5. Dark chocolate

Finally, a bit of a treat! Dark chocolate may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is the healthiest way to enjoy one of the world’s favorite foods. If you need a little reward halfway through writing up that essay or report, go for some really good quality dark chocolate. It’s been found to increase the flow of blood to the brain, as well as bringing lots of other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and boosting antioxidants. However, since even chocolate with a high cacao content is fairly high in calories and saturated fat, this is still a pleasure to be indulged in small quantities!

What ‘brain food’ ideas would you add to the list? Share your own favorite healthy snacks in the comments below.

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Written by Laura Bridgestock
The former editor of TopUniversities.com, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'

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1 Comment

Good day! This article is really good. You have shared great information on healthy food tips. Thank you.
Have a nice day!