Eat smart: 10 brain-boosting foods to get you through end-of-year exams

These bites will give you the nutritional oomph your need to nail your studies

29 October 2020 - 07:30
Start your study day with a tasty banana and blueberry smoothie, adding some crushed linseed for extra nutritional energy.
Start your study day with a tasty banana and blueberry smoothie, adding some crushed linseed for extra nutritional energy.
Image: 123RF/Nataliya Arzamasova

1. BANANAS

Forget banana bread. Eat a banana a day for the good levels of vitamin C and potassium the fruit provides to assist the functioning of nerves.

2. BLUEBERRIES

In season and plentiful, these juicy little bites are so moreish and can improve short-term memory loss. Freeze a punnet and they deliver another taste sensation: frozen blueberry icicles of yumminess.

3. BROCCOLI

Love it or loathe it, these mini green trees are a great source of vitamin K, which enhances cognitive power. Steam for maximum goodness and serve with a splash of olive oil, seasoning and a light sprinkling of cheese.

4. SAGE

Many people know this herb is the ideal partner to pork, but what is less known is the value it has in improving memory. You can add it to salads, toss it into roasted vegetables and include it in chicken dishes.

5. PUMPKIN SEEDS 

Save the seeds from that Jack-o'-lantern you carved for Halloween to wash and toast in a dry pan. Not only does a handful of these seeds make a tasty snack, but it'll give you all the zinc and magnesium you need when you're feeling overwhelmed by the stress of exam time. These nutrients also enhance memory and thinking skills.

6 & 7. SARDINES AND/OR LINSEED

Loaded with the omega-3 fatty acids, the ultimate brain food, both fresh and canned sardines, will do the trick. If using the convenient canned variety, drain off some of the oil or brine and mash with a dash of vinegar, freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

If you're not a fan of these little fish, you could try a tablespoon of linseed, which is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Crushing it in a pestle and mortar allows for best absorption of the nutrients, after which it can be added to a smoothie, yoghurt or breakfast cereal.

8. SUNFLOWER SEEDS

These are a great source of magnesium which assists in regulating a key brain receptor vital for learning and memory. Lightly toasting the seeds in a pan will make them even tastier. Keep a bowlful handy on the desk.

9 & 10. MARMITE AND/OR BOVRIL

These spreads are packed with B vitamins for boosting brain function. Enjoy them on toast, or use them to enrich stocks and sauces by dissolving a tablespoon of the yeast extract in a little boiling water.