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10 brain food ideas for revision sessions and exams

Selection of brain food

We know that studying for your exams can be a difficult time. Even if you’re not struggling with the content, it can still feel overwhelming and impossible to remember as the big day approaches. But one benefit of studying is that you can usually get away with snacking a little bit more to keep your energy levels up - and we’ve compiled a list of ten brain food ideas to make those stressful study sessions a little bit easier.

Let’s take a look at some of our recommendations.

1. Berries

These colourful fruits (particularly with red, purple, black, or blue hues) are usually packed with anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve memory, attention and brain processing speed*.

The benefits of berries are endless, so enjoy a delicious and healthy snack while giving your brain a boost during an intense study session.

2. Pumpkin seeds

Don’t underestimate the power of these tiny seeds. Rich in micronutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and copper, pumpkin seeds can be a great snack while you study.

For example, magnesium can help with sleep, concentration, and overall brain function, so it’s worth aiming to maintain an adequate level of magnesium in your diet. Fueling your study sessions with a nutritious snack like pumpkin seeds can make all the difference.

3. Citrus

Citrus fruits, or juices, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are not only refreshing but are high in vitamin C.

This essential nutrient is required for the production of neurotransmitters, therefore vitamin C is crucial for concentration, cognitive function, and memory, which is linked to many benefits for the brain.

Not only this, but vitamin C can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, which is common when studying for important exams.

4. Broccoli

This superfood is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin K, making it another healthy addition to your diet that can help with your studies.

Research has previously suggested that vitamin K can support brain health - which, of course, is beneficial when studying. However, broccoli as a whole is very high in nutritional value, so adding this to your meals will overall be beneficial for your body and brain.

5. Bananas

These yellow powerhouses are filled with essential nutrients that help to support brain health. Similarly to vitamin C found in citrus fruits, bananas provide vitamin B6 and potassium. Vitamin B6 aids in neurotransmitter production, making learning more efficient, while potassium enhances attention, learning, and memory.

6. Dark chocolate

Indulge in some guilt-free pleasure with dark chocolate. It contains flavonols, caffeine, and antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the brain and improves blood flow.

Flavanols have been found to support memory processes, which can be beneficial when revising those important topics. They may also assist in regulating your mood and reduce the symptoms of anxiety when preparing for an exam.

7. Oily fish

Oily fish like salmon and mackerel are excellent brain food due to their high omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3s support cognitive functions such as memory and attention - which is perfect for learning. However, in addition to this, eating fish regularly is considered to be beneficial in many other ways, such as to enhance your mood and overall mental well-being.

While your studies can be a stressful time, the omega-3 fatty acids have been regularly associated with improving moods and reducing symptoms of anxiety. Therefore, incorporating plenty of fish into a balanced diet can help you focus and feel much less stressed than without.

8. Nuts

Another source of omega-3 fatty acids, nuts are a brain-boosting snack. Walnuts and almonds contain vitamin E, which protects the brain from inflammation and promotes brain health.

9. Leafy greens

Adding leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, to your meals will have a similar effect as broccoli when it comes to studying. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they provide essential nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C, and various vitamin Bs to enhance your brain function and study sessions.

You’ll also find nitrates in spinach and kale which are converted into nitric oxide in the body - helping you relax and improve the blood flow to your brain. Therefore, during your studies, eating these leafy greens can enhance cognitive function and memory, giving you that positive boost.

10. Whole grains

Fuel your body and brain with healthy carbohydrates found in whole grains. They provide a steady source of energy that can help maintain focus and concentration during those longer study sessions. Plus, they contain vitamins and minerals essential for cognitive development.

Incorporating whole grains into a healthy, balanced diet, such as bread, pasta, cereal, quinoa, and brown rice, can make a whole lot of difference when preparing for your exams. So, revitalise your study routine by eating these tasty foods.

Final thoughts

No matter what, it’s important to try and maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water when studying. We understand that it can be a difficult time, but try out some of our food recommendations, study in a comfortable environment, and remember that all of your hard work will pay off in the end.

Remember - if you’re thinking about making any changes to your diet, and have any health conditions, please consult your doctor first.

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Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact our Student Services team on 0161 259 7400 or at studentservices@kaplan.co.uk and they’ll be able to advise further.

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* Healthline. What Is Anthocyanin? Foods List, Benefits, and More, 2022