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Here Are Top 10 Quick and Easy Brain Foods Guaranteed to Energise Your Child’s Body and Mind
Did you know that the brain consumes about 20% of the body’s total energy, despite only accounting for 2% of our body weight? That’s a lot of energy for one organ! And just like any other machine, the brain requires the right fuel to work efficiently.
Fortunately, certain foods contain essential nutrients that can enhance brain function, improve memory and concentration, and protect against age-related cognitive decline.
If you often feel your child struggles to focus on their homework, it could be time to look at their diet. While many factors contribute to brain health, including exercise, sleep, and stress management, nutrition is often overlooked. However, the food we eat can significantly impact our brain function and cognitive abilities. With the right brain foods, your child can feel more energised and focused in class and set them up for a successful day at school!
A balanced healthy diet is the most important way to ensure your child performs at their optimal level. A healthy diet is the foundation for the development of growing children.
Additionally, including brain foods that can help boost their brain growth helps improve their brain function, memory, and concentration. A healthy mind diet is critical for brain development, and what your child eats can affect their focus and cognitive skills.
In this blog, we’ll be sharing 10 quick and easy brain foods you can add to your child’s diet that is guaranteed to energise their body and mind. Keep reading to find out more!
What Are Brain Foods?
Brain foods are types of food that contain nutrients that have been scientifically proven to enhance brain function, improve memory and concentration, and protect against age-related cognitive decline.
Brain foods are rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. They provide your brain with energy and aid in protecting brain cells, which helps with cognition in areas such as memory, concentration and focus.
The brain is a very important organ. It’s the body’s control centre and allows you to move, think, feel, breathe and more. Because the brain has such an important job, we must provide sufficient fuel and nutrients to help it function properly and stay healthy.
Therefore, the foods we feed our child plays a huge role in the development and health of their brains. We put together a list of 10 brain-boosting foods to keep your child performing at their best:
Eggs are the number one source of brain food as they contain a nutrient called choline which helps to boost brain health. Studies have linked choline to better mental function and better memory function. Eggs are also rich in vitamins B6 and B12, essential for brain health and development. The folic acid found in eggs is important for the nervous system affecting mood and cognitive function.
One of the other benefits of consuming eggs is the antioxidant lutein that eggs contain. Lutein boosts eye health by providing protection against diseases. But research has also found a link between lutein and better cognition across domains like language, memory and learning.
When talking about brain foods, oily fish is the most common type of food that is brought up.
Many studies have shown that salmon is good for brain health and function. Oily fish like salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids DHA, essential for brain growth and function. Omega-3 provides more oxygen to the brain and allows us to retain new information while still remembering old information.
Omega-3 fatty acids help with the communication of cells within the brain. DHA supports optimal brain function and protects your child’s brain health by allowing it to function optimally. When your child’s brain works efficiently, there is less stress for both your child and their brain.
Salmon is a healthy fish in your child’s diet, packed with nutrients to feed the brain. Besides brain health, it’s packed with protein and is excellent for skin, heart, and eye health.
However, children, just like adults, have their own preferences. If your child doesn’t like salmon, other types of oily fish contain high levels of omega-3s, such as:
Another brainfood is nuts. Eating nuts regularly is good for your child’s brain and is part of the foods that increase intelligence. Nuts are packed with nutrients that are essential for brain health. Nuts contain fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are crucial in many aspects of brain health.
Raw, unroasted hazelnuts, cashews, almonds and walnuts are excellent choices for your child’s diet. They have been linked to better cognitive function, reduced risk of depression, better mood and enhanced memory, learning and attention capacity.
Nuts make for a healthy snack and are convenient and easy to pack in your child’s lunch box. You can also add a handful of your child’s favourite nuts to a side salad at dinner time.
Peanut butter is another great source to benefit from essential nutrients in nuts. It is an excellent vitamin E source and an important antioxidant that protects nervous membranes. Peanut butter also contains Thiamin to help the brain and nervous system use glucose for energy.
Peanut butter is versatile and can be used in many quick snacks and recipes. You could make a peanut butter and banana sandwich or slice up some green apples and dip them in peanut butter to double up on nutrients!
If your child doesn’t have an allergy to nuts, include them in their mind diet and help provide them with some brain-boosting benefits!
Oats are the most nutritious hot cereals and are very common among adults and kids. Oats provide energy or “fuel for the brain” your child needs first thing in the morning. Oats keep a child’s brain fed all morning at school and are loaded with fibre.
Additionally, oats are good sources of vitamin E and B vitamins and contain potassium and zinc, making our bodies and brains function at total capacity.
There are many ways to add oats to your child’s diet, especially if they don’t enjoy it as a hot cereal for breakfast. Add a handful of dry oats into a smoothie to make it thick. You can also add oats to a pancake, muffin, or even waffle batter or add them to your granola bar recipe.
Including strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries in your child’s diet may improve their memory. Research conducted with participants who ate blueberries showed increased blood flow to areas of the brain, improvements in memory and attention to required tasks.
Additional studies with children drinking smoothies made with berries showed an increase in memory tests compared to those drinking non-berry smoothies.
The antioxidants in berries support short-term memory and coordination. Blueberries, in particular, have one of the highest antioxidant values of all foods and are also very low in fructose (sugars) compared to other fruits. These delicious berries can be blended into smoothies or sprinkled on your child’s morning porridge.
Beans are another type of brain food you should try to include in your child’s diet. Beans are a low-glycemic nutrient-dense starch that gives the brain its preferred fuel glucose. Beans are also rich in nutrients, including magnesium, zinc, fibre, antioxidants, and folate.
According to research, folate is essential for brain function, and folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, such as depression and cognitive impairment. These are excellent brain food since they keep a child’s energy and thinking level at peak all afternoon if they enjoy them with lunch.
If you’re wondering how to add more beans to your child’s diet, simply add them to your everyday meals.
Here are some ideas:
- Add two or more tablespoons of black beans, chickpeas or green peas to your green salads.
- Make a delicious soup using kidney, pinto, and black or white beans.
- You can make a delicious snack by adding black beans to your salsa or making traditional hummus using chickpeas or other legumes.
- Add soybean foods like tofu and tempeh to your child’s diet.
7. Green Leafy Vegetables
We all know green leafy vegetables are good for our bodies, but did you know they also make for powerful brain food? Adding a healthy helping of leafy greens to our plates can have powerful outcomes on our physical and mental health. Leafy greens include spinach, swiss chard, collard, watercress, cabbage and beet greens.
Green leafy vegetables are an ideal source of brain-healthy plant compounds, including fibre, folate, and vitamins C and K, which promote healthy brain ageing and mood. Folate is an essential B vitamin that supports neurotransmitter function in your child’s brain. These neurotransmitters are essential chemical messengers in the brain that govern mood and cognition.
A high-fibre diet also supports mental health by nourishing the gut in many ways. Fibre helps maintain a healthy gut pH allowing for better nutrient absorption. Leafy greens are also fibre-rich, which promotes microbiome health while reducing inflammation in the gut and brain.
Fibre also reduces inflammation and optimises the health of the microbiota, which produces neurotransmitters for mental health. Therefore eating a high-fibre diet is linked with having fewer symptoms of depression.
Yoghurt is a much-loved healthy snack that you can include in your child’s lunchbox. There are many health benefits of yoghurt. Dairy foods contain protein and B vitamins essential for brain tissue growth, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. Yoghurt also provides protein and carbohydrates for the brain.
Recent research suggests that children and teens need 10 times more than the recommended dose of vitamin D, which benefits the neuromuscular system and the overall life cycle of human cells.
You should include yoghurt in your child’s diet as it has numerous benefits apart from being a brain-boosting food. It helps boost mental capacity, manage depression and anxiety, build stronger bones and helps with promoting healthier skin.
Although all the brain foods we mentioned so far have excellent benefits for your child’s brain health, they must also have a healthy mindset. Having a fixed mindset could affect their abilities at school, and this could mean that they need a little more help than just a change in diet. You can read our blog here to learn more about a fixed mindset and how to change it to a growth mindset.
9. Lean Beef or Lamb
Iron is an essential mineral that can help keep your child focused and energised at school. Lean beef or lamb is one of the best-absorbed sources of iron. Beef and lamb also contain zinc, which helps with memory.
However, if you prefer meatless, black bean and soy burgers are great iron-rich meatless options. As we mentioned earlier, beans are an excellent source of iron. Green leafy vegetables are also a good meat substitute, and your child can get their iron supply by having a good portion a day.
Here are some tips to prepare beef or lamb so your child gets enough iron in their diet:
- You could prepare grilled beef or lamb kebabs with grilled veggies. You could also stir-fry beef or lamb strips with your child’s favourite veggies.
- For a vegetarian option, grill black bean or soy burgers, then top with salsa or a tomato slice. You can also add a green leafy salad as a side.
10. Plums and Apples
We all get the midday slump where we’re reaching for something sweet to give us a boost. If you find your child feeling the same during the day, why not add some apples and plums to their lunchbox so they can snack on something healthy?
Apples and plums contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may fight a decline in cognitive skills. Research has shown that eating plums improves brain function and thinking.
On the other hand, eating apples is linked to a lower risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Apples may also promote weight loss and improve gut and brain health. Remember the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
Knowing the importance of these super-brain foods that can help boost your child’s brain function is important. It’s never too late to include them in your child’s diet!
Incorporating brain foods into our diet is an effective way to support our brain health and function. We can improve our memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities by consuming foods rich in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of brain foods such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can also help protect against age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of developing conditions like depression and anxiety.
So, the next time you plan a meal for your child, consider opting for brain-boosting food choices that will improve their brain health and keep them energised and motivated!
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