7 Foods To Make You Smarter

Posted on September 19, 2011 by

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7 Foods That Make
You Smarter

If the new school year has you
scrambling for tips on how to help your kids do better in class, you’re looking
for ways to increase your own productivity, start by examining your diet.
Studies have shown that certain foods serve as fuel for our brains, helping us
increase concentration and memory function—they’ve even been shown to help slow
down the mind’s natural aging process. The next time you really need to stay
alert or pay attention, try to eat more of these 7 foods that have been shown
to help improve brain function and increase our ability to focus. Combine this
practice with other good habits, like working out to your favorite Beachbody® DVD, and you’ll
soon find yourself at the head of the class—at any age.

  1. Spinach. At only 40 calories a cup, a
    serving of spinach contains almost half your daily requirement of folic acid,
    an essential nutrient for cell growth, blood production, and preventing memory
    loss. And spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available—just 1 cup
    of spinach also contains all your body’s daily requirements of vitamins A and
    K, plus most of the folate and manganese you need each day too. These nutrients
    improve brain function and slow down the effects of premature aging by helping
    to prevent the negative effects of oxidation on the brain. Spinach is also rich
    in iron, as well as lutein, which helps promote healthy eyesight.

    Smart Tip: Try losing the iceberg lettuce and
    adding spinach leaves instead to your next dinner salad—or add fresh spinach to
    an omelet!

  2. Oatmeal. As a good
    source of insoluble fiber, oatmeal provides a stable energy that helps your
    brain maintain consistent focus and concentration. Eating oatmeal can also slow
    down the digestion of starch, reducing the frequent spikes in blood sugar that
    can often occur after a big meal. The iron, magnesium, and zinc in oatmeal
    encourage cell growth and can help rev up the metabolism and regulate blood
    sugar. To get oatmeal’s maximum nutritional benefits, avoid the pre-flavored
    instant packets, which are loaded with sugar, and stick with the plain,
    slower-cooking kind—it still cooks up in the microwave in just 2 or 3 minutes.

Smart Tip: Turn up oatmeal’s flavor naturally
by preparing it with low-fat or nonfat milk and topping it with fresh
blueberries or banana slices.

  • Fish. Many studies have shown that
    eating oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help boost memory,
    concentration, and mental acuity. Omega-3 acids also appear to strengthen the
    brain’s synapses that are directly related to learning and memorization. And if
    that’s not reason enough to eat more fish, the omega-3 fatty acids also help
    slow down cognitive decline.

    Smart Tip: When choosing fish, watch mercury
    levels, and consider wild salmon, albacore tuna, and mackerel, which all
    contain omega-3s with minimal environmental contaminants.

  • Walnuts. Eating
    just a handful of these nuts every day can help prevent the decline of
    cognitive and motor function, increase brain resiliency, and improve cell
    function. Walnuts are loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids that help
    balance the unstable neurotransmitters that can contribute to depression and
    mood swings.

 

Smart Tip: Sprinkle a handful of chopped
walnuts on salads, or fill a travel container for a healthy on-the-go snack.
You’ll feel full longer, reducing the temptation to binge between meals.

  • Berries. Many types
    of berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, contain flavonoids, which
    have been linked to brain cell growth and improved memory. Berries with the
    darkest, richest colors generally offer the most nutritional value. Eat the
    real thing to reap the benefits, and avoid anything that contains “berry
    flavoring.” The antioxidants, vitamin C, and anti-inflammatory properties
    in berries have been shown to help preserve brain function and can be a helpful
    factor in battling the onset of dementia.

    Smart Tip: Sprinkle berries on salads, cereal,
    or yogurt, or make yourself a fresh berry fruit smoothie.

  • Yogurt. Widely
    known as a top calcium source for bone development and strength, yogurt also
    contains enough protein and carbohydrates in just one serving to help keep both
    the body and the brain energized throughout the day. Yogurt also contains amino
    acids that can encourage the production of neurotransmitters, and enough
    vitamin B to contribute—along with the protein—to the growth of brain tissue,
    while helping to slow down the aging process.

 

Smart Tip: Eat yogurt topped with berries for
breakfast or lunch, or if you’re having a salad, nix the bottled dressing and
make your own by mixing a quarter of a cup of plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt
with fresh herbs.

  • Eggs. These low-calorie,
    nutrient-dense wonders are rich in protein as well as choline, an important
    nutrient that helps regulate the brain and nervous system by acting as a
    messenger between muscles and nerves. If you’ve been avoiding eggs because
    you’re worried about your cholesterol, take note: Numerous research studies
    have indicated that eating eggs as part of a healthy diet has not been shown to
    be a contributing factor to heart disease. The nutrients in eggs also help
    increase memory development and aid in concentration. Another plus? Egg yolks
    contain lutein, which has been shown to help maintain and sometimes improve eye
    health.

    Smart Tip: Enjoy an egg and spinach omelet for
    breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

 

Brainpower Recipes

Grilled Tuna with
Quinoa

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 6-oz. albacore tuna steaks (1-inch thick)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Preheat broiler or grill. Put water
on to boil in medium saucepan. While water is boiling, place olive oil in
shallow bowl or casserole dish. Coat tuna steaks in oil and season with salt
and pepper, then cover dish and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. When water
is boiling, add quinoa to pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until water
is absorbed. While quinoa is cooking, grill fish approximately 7 minutes,
remove from heat, place on plates, and drizzle with lime juice. Remove quinoa
from heat and add orange juice and cilantro; mix well. Serve tuna steaks and
quinoa with a fresh spinach salad (see below). Makes 4 servings.

Fresh Spinach Salad

  • 10 oz. raw baby spinach (about 8 cups)
  • 1/4 small onion, minced
  • 1 large carrot, slivered
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cleaned, seeded, and cut in thin strips
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar (balsamic or rice wine)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Wash and dry spinach. Combine with
other vegetables and walnut pieces in large bowl. Mix oil, vinegar, salt, and
pepper in small bowl, then drizzle over salad. Toss and serve. Makes 4
servings.

Nutritional
Information (per serving)

Calories

Protein

Fiber

Carbs

Total Fat

Saturated Fat

Without salad

415

23 grams

2 grams

19 grams

18.5 grams

4 grams

With salad

560

28 grams

6 grams

26 grams

35.5 grams

5 gram

Easy Fruit Smoothie

  • 1/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sliced bananas
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz. plain low-fat yogurt

Place all ingredients in blender or
food processor and blend for 1 minute. (Makes 1 serving.)

Nutritional
Information (per serving)

Calories

Protein

Fiber

Carbs

Fat Total

Saturated Fat

264

12 grams

4 grams

49 grams

3 grams

< 1 gram

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