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Food for thought: Brain Food

By Jason Wong
On April 23, 2014

We're all coming into the home stretch of the semester now, and the most diligent among us (a.k.a not me) have probably already begun to study in preparation for finals. Of course, it's always important to eat healthily and regularly in order to be function at your best, but during finals season especially is when it counts the most. Today's column will talk about some foods that are believed to improve brain function they certainly won't substitute for studying, but they might just take some of the edge off.
Blueberries are one food thought to improve brain function. Animal studies have found that blueberries can help protect the brain from oxidative stress, and other studies have shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improve both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally similar to their younger counterparts. What's more, blueberries are an extremely convenient study food. They can be munched on as a snack, or easily tossed in a fruit salad. Obviously, blueberry pies, pancakes, muffins, etc. are also great ways to include blueberry in your diet.
Fish like salmon, sardines and herring that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are also considered to be great brain food and also contain anti-inflammatory substances as an added bonus. Preparing fish can be difficult if it's not pre-deboned, but otherwise it's not a hugely complicated ordeal. Salmon is usually grilled, but you can of course eat it as sushi, or smoked salmon. Both salmon and sardines go well with capers if you prefer a saltier flavor. If you're not a huge fan of fishy flavor, you might try deep-frying salmon with tamarind and ginger to cut some of the fishy taste, but keep the nutritional benefits.
Avocadoes are almost as good as blueberries in their brain boosting power. They are a somewhat fatty fruit, but the fat is monounsaturated, which promotes healthy blood flow, which in turn means a healthy brain. Moreover, avocadoes can decrease blood pressure, which has also been shown to improve brain function. Avocadoes are probably most popularly used in guacamole, but they can go great with other foods as well. Raw they're good in cool sandwiches similar to cucumber sandwiches, and if you lightly grill them they can be a good addition to a burger. They're similarly good in shrimp or fish tacos, and also play a prominent role in many kinds of sushi.
Like I said before, eating these is certainly not going to be the make-or-break factor in your final exam taking. After all, it's not powdered dragon claw (Harry Potter reference). But who knows, eating some or all of these foods in the coming weeks might just keep your brain feeling prepared, if not enthusiastic, for your upcoming exams.

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