By Jessica, Networx
With school kicking into high gear, it’s important to make sure students of all ages are on top of their games. A good night’s sleep and regular exercise are vital for keeping the mind focused and alert, but diet plays an important role, too. If you or your kids are heading into the classroom every day -- or if you just want to perform better at work or in general -- incorporate these eight kid-friendly foods into your daily diet rotation:
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for healthy brain function and memory. If you’ve ever read anything about nutrition, you know that salmon is a great source, but good luck trying to get your kid to eat salmon for lunch. Walnuts are also chock-full of omega-3s, and they come with a lot less nose-wrinkling and complaints.
The studies are in -- breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Studies have shown that students who eat before hitting the classroom consistently perform better than those who don’t. And there’s no better morning superstar than oatmeal. These whole grains contain vitamin B6, which is essential for enhancing short-term memory and attention span.
True story: I woke up in a daze this morning, and two cups of coffee didn’t improve the situation. You know what did? A serving of almonds. These nuts helps fight brain fog so you can focus on the task at hand (in my case, writing about brain foods for Pure Matters). As an added bonus, they also improve mood, making them a great snack choice for moody teenagers who can’t focus because they have So. Many. Feelings.
If your blood flow is hindered, your brain can’t do all of the things it needs to do. The good fats in avocado keep everything moving along, ensuring that you’re awake, alert and focused. I didn’t need another reason to eat guacamole every chance I get, but I’m happy to have one.
All berries fall into the superfood category, and with good reason. High in fiber, full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory… the list goes on and on. I’d hate to malign strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, but it seems that blueberries are just a little bit more super, especially when it comes to improving your memory.
I am a firm believer that just about everyone needs flax seeds in their lives. They keep your cardiovascular system humming along; they help fight cancer and chronic inflammation; and they can do wonders for your digestion. On the brain front, they keep your mind sharp by helping the cerebral cortex process information. And while kids may turn their noses up at the mention of flax seeds, they are easy to grind up and sneak into smoothies, yogurt, cereals and baked goods. I won’t tell if you don’t.
Eggs are one of the best sources of choline, an amino acid which is an important nutrient for memory and learning. The choline is in the yolk, though, so if you’re one of those people who asks for egg whites, you’re missing out on an important brain food, not to mention all of the egg’s antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins.
Calcium helps nerve function, which is essential for a healthy brain. Yogurt is one of the best ways to get this nutrient, both due to the good bacteria it contains, and the amino acids which help improve alertness and memory.
Kid-Friendly Meal Ideas
- Oatmeal with ground flax seeds and blueberries
- Scrambled eggs with sliced avocado
- Turkey and avocado sandwich on whole-grain bread
- Chicken with almond or walnut petso
- Yogurt with ground flax seeds and blueberries
- Trail mix with dark chocolate chips, almonds or walnuts, and dried blueberries
- Yogurt and blueberry smoothie