Want your child to do better in school? Take a close look at diet. Certain “brain foods” may help boost a child’s brain growth – plus improve brain function, memory, and concentration.
In fact, the brain is a very hungry organ – the first of the body’s organs to absorb nutrients from the food we eat, explains Bethany Thayer, MS, RD, a Detroit nutritionist and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).”Give the body junk food, and the brain is certainly going to suffer,” she tells WebMD. Growing bodies need many types of nutrients — but some super foods will help kids get the most from school. In our today’s article, you will find out the most essential 5 “brain foods”.
- Brain Food: Salmon
Fatty fish like salmon is an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA — both essential for brain growth and function, says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a Los Angeles nutritionist, and ADA spokeswoman.
In fact, recent research has also shown that people who get more of these fatty acids in their diet have sharper minds and do better at mental skills tests. While tuna is also a source of omega-3s, it’s not a rich source like salmon, Giancoli tells WebMD. “Tuna is definitely a good source of lean protein, but because it’s so lean it’s not very high in omega-3s like canned salmon is,” Giancoli tells WebMD. Also, albacore “white” tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna, so the EPA advises eating no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna weekly.
Eat more salmon: Instead of tuna sandwiches, make salmon salad for sandwiches — canned salmon mixed with reduced-fat mayo or non-fat plain yogurt, raisins, chopped celery, and carrots (plus a little Dijon mustard if your child likes the taste). Serve on whole-grain bread — which is also a brain food.
Soup idea: Add canned salmon to creamy broccoli soup — plus frozen chopped broccoli for extra nutrition and soft texture. Boxed soups make this an easy meal, and are generally low in fat and calories, Giancoli says. Look for organic boxed soups in the health food section.
Make salmon patties -using 14 oz. canned salmon, 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained), 1/2 onion (finely chopped), 2 garlic cloves (pressed), 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste. Combine ingredients. Mix well. Form into small balls. Heat olive oil in a pan, flatten spinach balls with a spatula. Cook over medium heat. Serve over brown rice (instant or frozen).
- Brain Food: Eggs
Eggs are well-known as a great protein source — but the egg yolks are also packed with choline, which helps memory development.
Eat more eggs: Send your child off to school with a grab-and-go breakfast egg burrito. Try breakfast for dinner one night a week – scrambled eggs and toast. Make your own egg Mc Muffin at home: just put a fried egg on top of a toasted English muffin, topped with a slice of low-fat cheese.
- Brain Food: Peanut Butter
“Peanuts and peanut butter are a good source of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects nervous membranes — plus thiamin to help the brain and nervous system use glucose for energy,” says Giancoli. Eat more peanut butter: For a twist on an old favorite, make a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Dip apple slices in peanut butter. Or, top off your favorite salad with a handful of peanuts.
- Brain Food: Whole Grains
The brain needs a constant supply of glucose — and whole grains provide that in spades. The fiber helps regulate the release of glucose into the body, Giancoli explains. “Whole grains also have B-vitamins, which nourish a healthy nervous system.”
Eat more whole grains: It’s easy to find whole grain cereals these days (make sure a whole grain is the first ingredient listed). But also think outside the box — and try whole wheat couscous for dinner with cranberries, or low-fat popcorn for a fun snack, she suggests. Whole-grain bread is a must for sandwiches. Switch to whole-grain tortillas and chips for quesadillas, wraps, and snacks.
- Brain Food: Oats/Oatmeal
Oats are one of the most familiar hot cereals for kids and a very nutritious “grain for the brain,” says Sarah Krieger, MPH, RD, LD/N, a St. Petersburg, Fla. consultant and ADA spokeswoman. “Oats provide excellent energy or fuel for the brain that kids need first thing in the morning.”
Loaded with fiber, oats keep a child’s brain fed all morning at school. Oats also are good sources of vitamin E, B-vitamins, potassium, and zinc — which make our bodies and brains function at full capacity.
Eat more oats: Top hot oatmeal with pretty much anything -applesauce and cinnamon, dried fruit and soy milk, sliced almonds and a drizzle of honey, fresh banana and a dash of nutmeg with skim milk, Krieger suggests. Cooking? Throw a handful of dry oats into a smoothie to make it thick — or into pancake, muffin, waffle or a granola bar recipe.
Here’s a simple snack kid can make: 1 cup peanut butter, ½ cup honey, 1 cup dry oats, ½ cup dry milk powder. Mix it up with your hands — then put a tablespoon between 2 apple or pear slices for a fun and different sandwich!