Hitting the books might mean expanding your horizons and learning valuable knowledge, but it also means lots of stress. From all-night study sessions to sugary cravings and slouching in front of a computer for hours, our health a takes backseat when it comes to passing an exam. Everyone has a trick for cramming all that material, but there is one sure-fire way to ensure your brain is ready to absorb all the information on those post-its that now cover your dorm room: the right diet. Whether you’re looking for a brainy breakfast to conquer that 8am exam or you need a snack idea that isn’t a tub of red licorice, these 13 foods will keep your brain focused and your outlook positive.
1. Water: Boring, but very essential. Staying hydrated is key to healthy brain function since without it your brain is literally moving at a sluggish pace. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, try making a cucumber-mint infused drink that you’ll want to sip on all day long. (via Roti and Rice)
2. Coffee: The classic go-to beverage is helpful, but in small doses. You don’t want to be shaking as you’re trying to take that test! Stick to one or two cups to improve alertness and brain power. If you’re a fan of sweeter coffee drinks (and who isn’t?), try making this amazing caramel latte with homemade caramel you can make in your dorm room. (via The Girls on Bloor)
3. Oatmeal: Follow the cliché and make breakfast your most important meal. Oatmeal contains a nutrient called choline which helps cognitive performance and improves memory. Cook some up and follow this recipe by topping it with other superfoods like strawberries, cashews, flaxseeds and maybe a few cheeky chocolate chips. (via I Love Vegan)
4. Bananas: Fruit should be your new favorite study buddy. Bananas give you energy at a slower rate, making you more productive as you push through those piles of notes. If you have a freezer, make a tray of these healthy chocolate peanut butter treats to have on hand. (via So Munch Love)
5. Apples: Yes, they can keep the doctor away and might help keep the bad grades away too. Apples contain high levels of vitamins that increase sensory perception and also reduce anxiety. Instead of stress-eating cookies, make these tasty apple slice snacks with peanut butter, nuts and chocolate. (via Household Almanac)
6. Carbs: If you’re feeling overly stressed and anxious about that exam, take a deep breath and enjoy some carbs. Whole grain foods like popcorn or granola stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that quiets the brain and encourages more calm and relaxed feelings. (via Kasey’s Kitchen)
7. Leafy Greens: Green vegetables like spinach and kale contain vitamins B-6 and B-12 which are are associated with improved memory and alertness. Make these wraps with pesto, cucumber, spinach and your protein of choice to keep your brain happy all afternoon. (via Ambitious Kitchen)
8. Beets: Instead of sugary fruit juice, try to find a smoothie or juice with this purple veggie in it. Beet juice has a high nitrate intake that will boost blood flow to the brain and (hopefully) keep those memories sharp. If you want an even bigger dose of purple, try making a pretty beet grilled cheese sandwich with avocado and goat cheese. (via Niatrition)
9. Avocado: Just put a cape on this little guy and call him “Super Study Food.” Avocados contain good fats, which lead to healthy blood flow to your brain and good brain function. Mix up some personal guac and enjoy a moment together before going back to the books. (via Brit + Co)
10. Broccoli: If you’ve been banging your head against a wall, try snacking on some broccoli. It is one of the best foods after a traumatic brain injury since broccoli actually repairs neuroconnections and speeds up the healing processes around the brain. Not that studying is the same as traumatic brain injury, but it can definitely feel that way sometimes. A honey-sesame salad like this one will help you get back on track. (via Chattavore)
11. Fish: End your day with a healthy dinner of fish to get your omega-3s, an essential fatty acid which helps brain function. Salmon is the best, but you can also go for eggs if you prefer. Whip up this one-dish dinner in the amount of time it takes you to go through those flashcards for the hundredth time. (via Brit + Co)
13. Trail Mix: There is something about studying that brings out the snacker in all of us. Instead of going for sugar or chips, try dried fruit or a trail mix with brain-boosting vitamins and minerals. DIY your own mix so you can be sure to get all the best ingredients that you love. (via Chubby Soul)
13. Dark Chocolate: Don’t worry, we won’t leave you without some sort of treat to curb that sweet tooth. If you need sugar, go for dark chocolate. It’s rich in fiber, iron and magnesium, which helps the brain receive blood flow and can improve memory. Snack on a few squares of dark chocolate or melt it in the microwave and dip fruit in it for a super healthy treat. (via No Gojis, No Glory)
What’s your favorite healthy study food? Share your snacks in the comments below!