When you’re studying for school — or trying to learn anything new — it’s important to add brain foods to your diet. Here are 3 of the best brain foods clinically proven to boost memory and cognitive skills.
But first, let’s briefly discuss the miraculous power of your brain and how it makes learning possible.
3 Top Brain Foods For Studying: Introduction
The Brain Foods For Studying and Learning
The brain is a complex organ composed of a large mass of nerve tissue encased within and protected by the skull. Though the exact mechanism by which your brain learns and retains information is still a subject of intensive research, we do know that neurons play a huge role. An estimated 100 billion neurons make up the human brain. 1
Neurons are one of the most well-researched areas in neuroscience and are essential to brain function.
Neurons transfer signals to the brain from sensory organs and vice versa via neurotransmitters. Therefore, it is essential that you protect and strengthen your neurons and neurotransmitters, and your diet is a great way to do that.
Here are 3 of the best brain foods scientifically proven to help produce and protect neurons and neurotransmitters and support learning and memory.
Brain Foods to Help You Prepare for your Next Exam
Here are three of the best foods scientifically proven to boost brain function.
Fatty fish — such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel — is a great brain food because it contains several nutrients known to boost memory and brain power.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Approximately 60% of your brain is fat, half of which is the omega-3 kind, and fatty fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Clinical research studies show that omega-3 fatty acids affect blood flow to the brain (affecting brain health) and influence neurotransmitter levels, which is very beneficial for memory and learning. 2, 3
Numerous studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids slow cognitive decline, especially as you age. But what about memory and learning and studying for exams? Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help with all of that, too. In one study on more than 17,000 children, researchers found a positive correlation between fish intake and school performance. Specifically, an intake of 8 grams of fatty fish per day significantly improved these children’s grades in German and mathematics. 4
Coenzyme Q10 CoQ10 (CoQ10) is a substance that sparks energy inside your cells, especially the cells of your heart and your brain. This helps give your brain the energy it needs to tackle your next study session!
Carnitine is an amino acid that plays a big role in energy production. L-carnitine brings fuel into the heart and brain cells to be burned for energy, and it has been shown to improve cognition in clinical research studies.
So, if you want to boost your test scores, you may want to add oily fish to your diet!
Berries are another brain food shown to boost memory. That’s because berries are a rich source of flavonoid compounds called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins fight brain inflammation, a condition known to interfere with memory and cause neurodegenerative diseases. Brain inflammation is also thought to be a key factor in memory and learning deficits. 5 , 6
And when it comes to mentally preparing yourself for your next exam, it doesn’t really matter which type of berry you choose to consume. Blueberries. Blackberries. Strawberries. All appear to have a positive affect on cognitive function in clinical research trials.
Berries are also a versatile fruit. You can eat them right out of your hand, stir them into a cup of yogurt, or blend them into a brain-boosting smoothie.
Eggs are known as a “brain food” for good reason. They contain several nutrients shown to support brain health, including choline and folate.
Choline: Eggs are a rich source of choline, a nutrient your body uses to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter helps regulate memory, among other functions. And indeed, studies show that an increased intake of choline may improve memory and overall cognitive function. 7
Folate: Also known as vitamin B-9, folate is another nutrient essential for proper brain function. In fact, low levels of folate are associated with cognitive decline, especially in the elderly. 8
Brain Foods For Studying And Exams
So to help you study, maybe you should stock up on fish, eggs, and berries –and eat them regularly!
2- Wysoczański T, Sokoła-Wysoczańska E, Pękala J, Lochyński S, Czyż K, Bodkowski R, Herbinger G, Patkowska-Sokoła B, Librowski T. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and their Role in Central Nervous System – A Review. Curr Med Chem. 2016;23(8):816-31. doi: 10.2174/0929867323666160122114439. PMID: 26795198.
3- Heim M. Are Omega-3s Good for your Brain? Time Magazine Online. Published JUNE 20, 2018. https://time.com/5316521/omega-3-brain-health/
4- Lehner A, Staub K, Aldakak L, et al. Fish consumption is associated with school performance in children in a non-linear way: Results from the German cohort study KiGGS. Evol Med Public Health. 2019;2020(1):2-11. Published 2019 Dec 23. doi:10.1093/emph/eoz038
5- Subash S, Essa MM, Al-Adawi S, Memon MA, Manivasagam T, Akbar M. Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural Regen Res. 2014;9(16):1557-1566. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.139483.
6- Kingsland J. Could reducing brain inflammation prevent memory loss in Alzheimer’s? MedicalNewsToday. Published online March 26, 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/could-reducing-brain-inflammation-prevent-memory-loss-in-alzheimers
7- Nurk E, Refsum H, Bjelland I, Drevon CA, Tell GS, Ueland PM, Vollset SE, Engedal K, Nygaard HA, Smith DA. Plasma free choline, betaine and cognitive performance: the Hordaland Health Study. Br J Nutr. 2013 Feb 14;109(3):511-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512001249. Epub 2012 May 1. PMID: 22717142.
8- Zeisel SH, da Costa KA. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009 Nov;67(11):615-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x. PMID: 19906248; PMCID: PMC2782876.