What foods can make your child smarter? Truth be told, there are a lot of foods that can improve learning, understanding and memory. Brain power relies on many factors, including physical activity, sleep and food.
I’ve highlighted 7 foods that can strengthen your child’s brain power today, and promote brain health for tomorrow:
Blueberries: Full of flavenoids, these nutrients help improve memory, learning and general thinking while slowing the age-related decrease in mental ability.
Quick Tip: An incredibly convenient and versatile food! Include blueberries on cereal, in salads, yogurt parfaits, or just grab a handful. Any form will do: fresh, frozen, dried, or freeze-dried.
Olives: Eating olives regularly may lead to less brain deterioration over time. The mono-unsaturated fat present in olives is incorporated into all cells and promotes the transportation of more oxygen to the brain, more than saturated fats (from meats, dairy, fried foods), which stiffen cell membranes.
Quick Tip: Use olives as snack food, as a side dish in lunch boxes, or as a pre-dinner appetizer.
Nuts: Not only a source of mono-unsaturated fat, nuts have another nutrient, vitamin E, that protects the brain from degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, by squelching brain cell-damaging elements called free radicals.
Quick Tip: A little goes a long way! Make sure to pay attention to portion sizes. Include nuts as a cereal or yogurt topper, a snack, and on top of salad or cooked veggies. If you have a nut-allergic child, seeds offer similar benefits.
Fish: Eating fish regularly seems to have an effect on brain size (mass), and may slow the aging process of the brain. The oils (omega-3 fats) present in fatty fish help enhance problem solving, concentration, and memory.
Quick Tip: Get the fish habit started early. While the goal is 2 servings per week of fatty fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel, trout), even getting 1 serving a week is progress in the right direction. Limit mercury-containing fish.
Chocolate: Dark chocolate has been found to increase blood flow to the brain, improve thinking and mood, mostly due to the presence of cocoa flavenols (an antioxidant) and caffeine.
Avocado: Naturally rich in healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), avocado improves blood flow to the brain, a natural way to enhance brain ability.
Quick Tip: Avocado Up! Mash on sandwiches in lieu of mayonnaise, chop into cubes as a finger food, or serve a halved avocado with a spoon and squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of salt (my personal favorite!).
Eggs: Children have a developing memory center, which is forming during the first 6 years of life. Choline is an important nutrient in this process. One yolk has about 200 milligrams of choline, which meets or nearly meets the needs of children up to 8 years. Eggs also contain iron, folate, vitamin A and D (if enhanced), which are important for normal growth and development.
Quick Tip: Children can have an egg a day. Keep the variety coming with scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, loaded with veggies in frittatas, quiches and omelets, and of course, included in baked goods. Check with your healthcare provider if you’re child is dealing with weight issues and/or high cholesterol.
How will you incorporate more brain foods into your child’s diet?