Exam season is when sugar and caffeine consumption increase exponentially. All careful eating goes out the window, replaced by a diet of nachos and ready meals. But bad eating, skipping meals, and binging can be the worse thing to do in an already stress-filled time.
Since eating the right meals and munching on the right revision snacks are the best thing to do for an active mind, here’s a list of tasty yet healthy foods to fuel you through revision and last minute assignments.
1) Oily Fish
Oily fish is high in protein and Omega 3, which are essential in boosting concentration levels. A plate of salmon, mackerel, trout, kippers or sardines will be a great dinner giving you all the essential fatty acids that the body can’t produce naturally and so must be obtained through your diet.
One of the most versatile, delicious, and healthy foods. They’re a great way to start the day, and make a nice addition to a lunchtime salad or sandwich. One egg contains about 6g of protein, and lots of antioxidants – and it’s under 100 calories. Click here for James Martin’s brain-power inducing Egg Benedict and Smoked Salmon Recipe.
3) Nut Butter
Yes, a comfort food that helps you concentrate! Despite their reputation for having a high calorie content, natural nut butters are actually pretty good for you. They contain healthy fats and are high in protein. They generally have a long shelf life too, so they make a great cupboard essential. Peanut butter mixed in porridge, spread on an apple, banana or on wholegrain bread also makes a brain-boosting snack. If you’re procrasta-baking why not try some Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Cookies?
Okay not technically a food, but who can resist a ‘naughty’ drink to help you concentrate? Caffeine in moderation is great for keeping you alert over the exam period – and is much better for you than sugary energy drinks. When you drink coffee, caffeine enters the bloodstream and increases the number of neurotransmitters, improving general cognitive function, energy levels, reaction time and even mood! Coffee beans are also loaded with antioxidants, which help to improve your memory and have a ton of other health benefits too.
University research has shown that consumption of blueberries is effective in delaying short-term memory loss, perfect for last minute cramming. They work as a great snack or to spruce up a salad. Here’s a mouthwatering blueberry-walnut salad recipe.
6) Pumpkin seeds
It might sound boring but a handful of pumpkin seeds gives for your daily recommended amount of zinc, which is vital for improving thinking skills and enhancing your memory. They’re also pretty tasty, and work great in salads, breakfast muffins, or are delicious roasted.
7) Broccoli and Cauliflower
Turns out your Mum had a reason to tell you to eat your greens! Broccoli and cauliflower are high in Vitamin K, which helps to boost brainpower and cognitive skills. They’re also high in fibre, which means you stay fuller for longer, stopping you reaching for high sugar snacks during revision time.
Adding a dash of fresh sage to your dinner will help improve memory. A dusting of cilantro gives you a dose of vitamin K, which helps mental reasoning. These are just a couple of herbs that assist brain power.
Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E and Omega 3. While salmon is the best source of Omega 3, eating it everyday is dangerous due to its high mercury content. Sprinkling a handful of walnuts in a salad, with porridge, or on its own is a safe way to consume Omega 3 everyday.
Chickpeas are a great source of magnesium, which is a key ingredient in helping energy metabolism. This is highly beneficial for brain cell receptors as it speeds up message transmission between parts of the brain. Magnesium also relaxes blood vessels – helping you to de-stress before that big test. One serving of chickpeas contains around two thirds of your recommended daily allowance of magnesium. If you want to try something more adventurous than hummus try roasting chickpeas instead.
Love it or hate it, marmite is one of the best food sources of thiamine (vitamin B1), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6), both of which play a role in neurotransmitter production, which strengthens memory and cognition.
12) Dark Chocolate
Like caffeine, dark chocolate can help enhance focus and contains lots of antioxidants. Try a too-good-to-be-true healthy and delicious dark chocolate brownie recipe.