There is a lot of pressure to perform well on your exams, which can be quite stressful. Even if you’ve studied hard, the anxiety of wanting badly to succeed can derail your cognitive abilities.
But despite the worry and the fear, the best thing you can do is relax and take some deep breaths. The next best thing is to make sure you have eaten a brain-boosting meal before you sit down to the test.
We’ll let you know about the very best food choices to prepare yourself, as well as what to avoid. Then you can breathe a bit easier, knowing you have done everything you can to dominate that exam.
Blueberries are great for all sorts of things, but in this case, they are helpful due to their youth-preserving antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals in the brain and body. This can slow brain aging and help keep the brain elastic so that it can take in and preserve information as memory. Antioxidants also act against inflammation, which may contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases.
Eating blueberries on a regular basis, not just before a test, allows the antioxidants to build up and actually improve communication between brain cells. And finally, studies in animals point to the possibility that blueberries can not only improve memory, but also delay short-term memory loss.
Walnuts, avocados, and salmon
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, any food that is rich in omega-3 fats is great for memory, concentration, and overall brain function.
The human body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids on its own, so it must come from our diets. Consuming foods like nuts, fish, or avocado in the days before an exam can actually prime the brain to excel at concentration and memorization.
Broccoli is a veggie that’s packed with powerful antioxidants. But that’s not all. It is also very high in vitamin K, which is a fat-soluble vitamin essential to the formation of sphingolipids, a crucial type of fat found in brain cells.
There have been some studies in adults that indicate a high intake of vitamin K is linked to better memory. And finally, broccoli contains a number of anti-inflammatory compounds that help to combat inflammation and protect against brain deterioration. It doesn’t take much to get the benefits – just one cup delivers more than 100% of your daily recommended intake for vitamin K.
The benefits of dark chocolate are many. First, it is packed with brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants. The flavonoids tend to gather in areas of the brain associated with learning and memory, enhancing your recall and helping to slow down aging-related decline.
One large study of over 900 people found that those who ate chocolate more frequently did better on a series of mental tasks involving memory. And for reasons that are unclear, but may be linked to chocolate’s delicious taste, simply eating some tends to make people feel happy.
Caffeine is a very common stimulant that many adults consume every day. Taking in some caffeine can streamline your concentration, boost alertness, and increase overall productivity. It doesn’t last all day, but hopefully, neither does your test. If you get your caffeine in the form of coffee, you’ll get a good dose of caffeine as well as the essential nutrients riboflavin (Vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), manganese, potassium, magnesium, and niacin (B3). Tea, on the other hand, has slightly less caffeine but is high in antioxidants and theanine, which is known to reduce mental stress.
Skip the Simple Carbs
You may have heard of carbo-loading before a big race, but it’s not advisable before a test. Eating things like bread, pasta, or rice before an exam will give you an immediate memory boost, but it is short lived and quickly thereafter results in slowed brain function.
A heavy intake of carbohydrates will spike blood sugar and lead to the release of serotonin and tryptophan, which in combination make you feel sleepy. The last thing you want during your test is to start out strong but midway through crash on your desk in a drooling heap.
Follow this simple advice to make sure your brain is in top shape for that exam. Adding these foods into your diet in the days prior will help you retain information as you study. Be sure to get plenty of sleep, not only to have enough energy, but also to allow your brain to effectively store the information you need to score highly. Good luck – you’ve got this!