Brain Food: Is It Real?

Posted by on November 3rd, 2015

Healthy eating has been linked to a number of physiological benefits. Research has pointed to the positive effects of healthy eating on overall health as well as the brain. Some of the most commonly referenced benefits of healthy eating are increased energy, greater concentration, sharper memory and better moods. Eating a balanced diet on a regular basis has also been linked to long-term cognitive and health benefits. In addition to vitamins and minerals, four food categories are regularly acknowledged for their overall positive brain health impact: amino acids, antioxidants, glucose and fatty acids.

  • Amino Acids – Amino acids connect neurotransmitters in the brain, keeping the brain sharp. Amino acids impact mood, memory, concentration and alertness. They can be found in protein rich foods like meat, fish, and eggs.
  • Antioxidants – Antioxidants are responsible for protecting the brain from oxidated stress. Reduction in oxidated stress slows the aging impact on the brain, thus adding memory and cognitive longevity. Antioxidants are often ingested through cranberries, blueberries, and teas. Spinach, carrots and broccoli are also antioxidant sources.
  • Glucose – Glucose is the body and brain’s main energy source. A good portion of the body’s blood glucose is derived from carbohydrates. Some examples of carbohydrates to consider are: veggies, fruits, beans and peas.
  • Fatty Acids – Fatty acids, such as omega-3, are recognized for their slowing of cognitive decline. Omega-3s are a source of DHA, the fatty acid supporting brain, eye and heart health. Good sources for fatty acids include fish, nuts and seeds.

Study Snacks for Mental Muscle

Many people like to snack when they study. Included are a few suggestions of healthy snacks that can also support better brain function. You may even opt to keep some of these available in your classroom for quick brain breaks.

Amino Acids

  • Jerky – Dried meat is a great protein source and readily available as a snack. Jerky is available in beef, turkey and chicken.
  • Boiled eggs – Boiled eggs are a quick snack that increase amino acid intake for learners.


  • Berries – Berries are the most popular source of antioxidants. Berries can be enjoyed fresh, dried or frozen.
  • Colored Bell Peppers – Bell peppers are a snack option offering an antioxidant deposit. The peppers can be enjoyed raw for a great crunch or roasted for a savory indulgence.
  • Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate produces as number of desired effects on brain health. In addition to being an antioxidant, dark chocolate is a stimulant and also releases endorphins affecting both mood and energy levels.


  • Apple Slices – Glucose is one of the three sugars contained in apples. They are a great source for a quick energy boost.
  • Edamame – Soybeans are another energy source. Grab a handful for a quick pick-up during an energy lull. Edamame also provides a great source of fiber.

Fatty Acids

  • Nuts – Nuts are considered to be an effective snack for brain boosts due to the amounts of Omega-3 fatty acid. Walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are among the most commonly recognized nuts for their brain benefits. Walnuts are especially recommended because of their high concentration of DHA.
  • Salmon – Salmon is among the most recognized sources of Omega-3. Salmon can be rolled as sushi, seared or eaten as a convenient kabob.

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