If exam time is usually a period that fills you with dread, perhaps it’s time you looked at what ‘brain food’ you consume.
In order for the brain to focus for longer periods of time, you will have to look at what fuels the brain.
What brain food are you consuming to keep concentration going for long periods of time?
What are the best foods to eat when studying?
1. Go bananas!
Fruit ranks high among the best brain food to eat when you need to concentrate. Blueberries are high in anti-oxidants and other essential nutrients to keep you focused and your brain nourished. Bananas are high in protein which stabilises your blood sugar levels for increased concentration.
The natural sugars in fruit offer your brain clean energy that doesn’t see you crashing shortly afterwards like more sugary and artificial foods.
2. Power Vegetable Play
Did you know the darker the vegetable, the higher the concentration of nutrients? Spinach has more to offer the mind and body than iceberg lettuce, so it’s not just about eating a salad!
Other important vegetables include sea vegetables such as kelp, nori, kombu and arame, just to name a few. Sea vegetables have a high concentration of iron, work as an anti-oxidant and stabilise blood sugar levels.
3. Super Nutrients
When studying, it’s important to choose snacks that will keep you focused and energised.
Snacks that are high in magnesium, copper and iron, help maintain a healthy nervous system and help you feel less tired. Hazelnuts and cashews are a great source of this.
Zinc and omega3 are also important nutrients found in nuts and seeds. Zinc contributes to normal cognitive function and can be found in cashews, pumpkin seeds and linseeds. Omega3 is a great nutrient for improving brain health and is not only found in nuts and seeds, but also healthy fats such as avocadoes and oily fish.
4. Smart snacking can enhance study time
‘Smart snacking’ is when you think of snacks as a mini meal and that compliment your other food choices for the day. Smart snacks also fill you up for longer periods of time which can help you concentrate for longer.
Studies have also found that the act of chewing increases concentration, even when it’s not giving you a sugar boost.
Smart snacks include:
- Grains – wholegrain cereal, crackers, cereal bars
- Vegetables – raw veggies (carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes), vegetable juice
- Fruits – berries, apples or pear wedges, naartjie segments, banana, dried fruit, fruit juice
- Milk – cheese slices or cubes, yoghurt, milk, frozen yoghurt, milk-based desserts
- Meat and Beans – Nuts, peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, cold meat, tuna
It is highly beneficial to choose a snack that includes two or more food groups, for example:
- A handful of peanuts and a glass of fruit juice
- Mixed salad greens, natural shredded or cubed cheese
- Whole wheat crackers and cheese
- Trail mix that combines dried fruit, seeds and grains
- A smoothie bowl containing fresh fruit and nuts
5. Reconsider three meals per day
Big meals often slow you down mentally and physically as your body goes through the process of breaking down a large meal. Instead of eating a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, opt for 5 or 6 smaller meals to keep concentration levels peaking.
Get creative with your meal choices and benefit from increased brain power. Plus, you get to look forward to your next snack!
Note: it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you suffer from blood sugar conditions, iron deficiency, etc.
6. Don’t start the night before
Consuming the correct amount of brain food does not simply start the night before. You should be eating a brain food diet long before the night of an exam or test.
Unfortunately, there is no magic brain food that will suddenly turn you into a genius. Brain food is designed to help your brain’s performance and its ability to retain information.
If you have an important test or exam on the horizon, start that ‘brain food eating plan’ today, and not simply the night or meal before a big test.
Brain food cheat sheet
For a cheat sheet on the most potent brain food to consume for maximum brain power, see below:
- Anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables like blueberries, citrus fruit and peppers
- Nuts of all kinds, especially walnuts
- Dark chocolate
- Healthy complex carbohydrates such as carrots, potatoes and oatmeal
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fermented food like yoghurt and raw sauerkraut
- Turmeric spice
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Naturally caffeinated drinks like green tea and coffee
Food to avoid before an exam
So now that we know what food we should be eating when prepping for an exam, what food should we avoid before an exam?
- Cookies, cakes, and muffins require added time and energy to digest
- Food high in refined sugar, such as chocolates, desserts, and sweets
- Food combinations such as protein and starch
- Carbohydrates such as rice or potatoes (in large quantities) can make you feel heavy and sleepy
To calm your nerves the day before an exam, try eating carbohydrate-rich food as it makes you feel more relaxed than alert – just not on the actual day of your exam.
Montagu We Care Brain Food blend
Our recently launched We Care Brain Food Blend contains ALA (a plant-based Omega-3 fat which contributes to normal brain functioning.
It is also very high in Omega-3 fats, high in energy, high in fibre, naturally cholesterol-free and naturally very low in sodium.
The Blend contains no added sugar, only sugars naturally found in fruit and nuts. It includes premium quality Montagu raisins, walnuts, pecan nuts, dried apple, chia seeds and linseeds.
Stock up on all your favourite natural brain-boosters at your nearest Montagu store.