Eating well for eggcellent results

Erika Armanino explains the importance of eating healthily during exam season, suggesting some nutritious foods we can add to our diets.

Erika Armanino
10th May 2021
Eating well is both beneficial for your physical and mental health, but what kind of foods should you eat to keep your grey matter active and happy?

During the stress of exams, we often neglect our diets for something quick, easy and satisfying. However, what we often don't realise is that an unbalanced diet can actually impact on our marks. Feeding our tired little bodies the right nutrients during these week subsequently feeds our brains, so we can perform at our best.

Optimising your nutrition during exams, as well as the other 364 days of the year, can help your memory capacity. The foods you eat play an important role in keeping your brain healthy and can improve specific mental tasks, such as concentration. That is why I made a list a foods you might want to consider adding to your diet during this exam season.

Coffee

I know everybody will be very happy about this one, as one of the must-have students' drink. You’ll be pleased to know that if you start your day with a cup of coffee, the caffeine and antioxidants will help your brain. 

The caffeine has a number of positive effects on the brain, including:

  • Improved mood: caffeine can help you boost some “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as serotonin 
  • Sharpened concentration: one study found that people who drink one large coffee in the morning or smaller amounts throughout the day, are more effective at tasks that require concentration
  • Increased alertness: it keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, chemical messenger that makes you sleepy

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are abundant sources of omega-3 fatty acids - healthy unsaturated fats that have been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

These fats are important for healthy brain functions, the heart, joints and our general well-being. Although some studies are at an early stage there is some suggestion that adequate amounts of omega-3 fats in your diet may help to relieve depression.

Broccoli

Broccoli is a great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. 

Researchers found that because broccoli is high in compounds called glucosinolates, it can slow down the breakdown of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which we need for the central nervous system to perform properly and keep our brains and memories sharp.

Jeremy Ricketts on Unsplash

Berries

In a 2012 study published in Annals of Neurology, researchers at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years. 

Blueberries and other deeply coloured berries deliver anthocyanin, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can help improve communication between memory cells.

Nuts

Nuts are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats, and one type of nut in particular might also improve memory. A 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores.

Several nutrients in nuts, such as healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamin E, may explain their brain-health benefits.

Vitamin E shields call membranes from free radical damage, slowing down mental decline.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamin B6 and B12, folate and choline.

Choline is an important micronutrient contained in egg yolks that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.

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