Healthy suggestions for making the most of your brain when it's needed most
You may have heard it before, but I’m telling you again omega-3 fats really are good for the brain. Keep your noggin filled with good vibes by eating at least 3-4 oz each week of fatty fish like salmon or sardines. Your dorm mates or coworkers don’t appreciate you microwaving a filet of salmon? No problem. Try ready-to-eat foods like canned sardines instead, or—my favorite—packages of wild caught Alaskan salmon. Slap it on some bread with mayo and a little relish, and you’ve got a full-fledged feast that’s on-the-go convenient. Thank you… your brain says.
Do I really need to give you an excuse to eat chocolate? Chocolate is rich in antioxidants and brain-boosting minerals like iron and magnesium. Best of all, it has a little bit of caffeine to get you through a slow slump, and I would wager that snacking on such a treat would help ease some anxiety (exam-related or otherwise).
Nuts and Seeds
Take your snack a step further by pairing the dark chocolate with some nuts and seeds. When you eat a variety of nuts and seeds, you also get a variety of brain boosting benefits. Case in point: brazil nuts are loaded with the antioxidant selenium; walnuts are rich in omega-3; almonds are full of vitamin E; and pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc and magnesium. Mix up some trail mix and munch away.
Okay, so not exactly a nutrient, but listening to some calming yet stimulating music can help maintain focus—a particularly useful perk during long study sessions. Besides, Mozart was pretty smart, so maybe listening to his music will make you smarter by osmosis.
Coffee or Green Tea
A little caffeine has been shown to improve alertness and mental acuity, so an hour or so before heading into an exam (or, say, a major meeting) have a small cup of coffee or green tea. Be cautious, however, about using caffeine to stay up late to study or work. It may interfere with your much-needed sleep.
One last trick to use is to pop a peppermint into your mouth before the big event (test, meeting, interview, etc). Studies have show that eating a mint is stimulating and can help improve blood flow to the brain.