Brain Food for Exams

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Certain foods can have positive effects on the brain. Eating foods that contain specific nutrients can help sharpen the memory, improve a person's mood and help keep the mind active. Instead of grabbing a doughnut on the morning of an important exam, eat foods that will increase memory function and improve focusing abilities.

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Vitamins are essential for a healthy body and brain. They help feed the brain and keep it active. B vitamins such as folic acid, B12 and B6 play an important role in the functioning of the brain messages that are sent back and forth throughout the body. Eat a small portion of lean meat, leafy vegetables or a cup of cranberries to help stay focused and more alert. Bananas, nuts and seeds are also excellent brain foods to eat before taking an exam.

Fresh cranberries.
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About 40 percent of the brain is covered in a component called DHA that is found in omega-3 fatty acids. Fats help the little messengers in the brain regulate certain aspects of the body such as blood circulation, memory and the immune system. For full performance of the brain, omega-3 fatty acids are vital and should be included in your meals, especially before an exam. Consuming a diet that includes herring, anchovies, sardines, salmon and tuna may help improve memory and reduce learning disabilities.

Fried herring on a plate.
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Eating the right carbohydrates before an exam may help you feel more relaxed and less anxious. Carbohydrates help absorb tryptophan, which is a substance that is converted into serotonin within the brain. Once the carbohydrates are consumed, and the serotonin levels rise, a person may be able to think clearer for several hours. Good sources of carbohydrates are found in corn, squash, beets and whole grain cereals. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes these carbohydrates may help lessen confusion and anxiety before taking an exam.

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Proteins are an essential brain food. Once foods rich in protein are digested, they are broken down into amino acids that help feed the brain. Feeding the brain with protein will help keep you alert during an exam. Eggs, milk products, dried beans, whole grains, green leafy vegetables and nuts are a good source of protein. Fish and poultry also contain protein that can feed the brain. Slice up a few boiled eggs and throw on a leafy green salad, or eat a piece of whole grain toast with cheese to help improve memory for an exam.

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Brain food does not necessarily have to be a gourmet meal before an exam. Eating small meals throughout the day may also help increase the energy your brain needs to function. In the morning before an exam, prepare a smoothie using fruits such as pears, apples and berries that are mixed with whey protein and kelp powder. A lunch can include lean slices of meat on a bed of romaine lettuce. Add some cheese, raw carrots, red peppers and drizzle with walnut oil. Eat a piece of salmon for dinner with a side of string beans, cauliflower or steamed cabbage.

A woman drinks a fruit smoothie.
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