With the end of the semester and finals week right around the corner, our ability to stay alert and focused is becoming increasingly more important.

Many of us tend to think that drowsiness, loss of concentration, and the inability to remember things is the result of stress. But what some of us easily forget, or simply do not know, is that a healthy diet can significantly improve brain function.

Whether it is enhancing memory, boosting concentration, or staying alert, here is a list of healthy foods to eat for brain power:

Dark chocolate (yes, chocolate!)

Chocolate lovers rejoice! You now have an excuse to indulge in one of your guilty pleasures. The cocoa bean is full of theobromine, which contains tryptophan, the basis for serotonin. This means that eating chocolate may help elevate your mood, allowing you to tackle your end-of-the-year duties with a more positive attitude. The only catch is you will need to stick to dark chocolate with a minimum 70 percent cocoa solids.

Carbs for concentration

Elizabeth Somer, expert nutritionist and author, notes:

“Eating a small carb snack before a test—a whole-wheat English muffin with a little peanut butter and a glass of orange juice—will help boost concentration and brainpower, and is better than going in on an empty stomach.”

“Quality (complex) carbs, not jelly beans or a Snickers bar, can supply the brain with the fuel it needs to operate optimally.”

Maintain energy levels with healthy snacks

Healthy snacks throughout the day are important for daily brain function. Examples of healthy snacks might include mixed seeds, specifically sunflower and pumpkin seeds. These snacks have higher amounts of magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium which are all vital for improved concentration, memory retention and keeping us calm.

Boost your brain at breakfast

You’ve heard it time and time again, but breakfast is one of the most important parts of your day!

Oats are one of the best foods to help fuel your brain with a lasting brain boost. Oats are high in B vitamins which help us out in times of stress. In result, when we don’t have enough B vitamins stored we may experience lower concentration and memory, irritability, and even higher stress levels which might leave us feeling blue and unmotivated.

Dark fruits and veggies for antioxidants

Somer also mentions the benefits of antioxidants for fueling your brain:

“The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables protect the brain from oxidants that damage delicate cell membranes and brain cells, and may cause dementia. Maintaining a high antioxidant level is important for cognition and memory.”

Look for darker colored fruits and vegetables for highest levels. Most nutritionists name blueberries as the ultimate antioxidant powerhouse.

Include these foods in your diet, do some daily exercise, keep well hydrated, get 7-8 hours of sleep each night and you’ll be well ahead of the game for getting optimum exam results. Remember, no amount of food can help if you’re not getting enough rest. Get a good night’s sleep, and when you wake up, select foods that will stimulate your taste buds—and your brain as well.


Elizabeth Somer