If your kids lack focus and concentration, have trouble memorizing facts for tests or you wish they’d bring home better grades on their report cards, it may not have anything to do with their interest or effort but with the foods they’re eating—or not eating enough of.
These 10 brain-boosting foods can help support their brain growth and brain health to do well in school and in other areas of their lives.
Omega-3 fatty acids (EHA and DHA) are vital for brain function and consuming foods that are high in these essential fats may even give your kids an edge.
According to a December 2017 study out of the University of Pennsylvania, kids who eat seafood at least once a week have higher IQ scores that are 4 points higher on average than kids who eat fish less frequently or not at all.
Salmon is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and is versatile enough to serve at any meal. Serve leftover salmon for breakfast on toast or paired with eggs or canned salmon on a sandwich or in a lettuce wrap.
Not only are eggs an excellent source of protein which will help your kids stay focused, they’re also rich in choline, a nutrient that supports memory.
Serve eggs scrambled, in a frittata or quiche, or add hard-boiled eggs to a salad or bring them for a snack when you’re on the go.
Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are all high in antioxidants which may be brain boosting for your kid.
In fact, a January 2012 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found eating these gems can be beneficial to brain health and may ward off memory loss due to age.
4. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.
Free radicals are an atom or a group of atoms that have an unpaired electron which makes them unstable or highly reactive. They can affect brain health and later on in life, cause a decline.
As a result, most of the research looking at the benefits of vitamin E are conducted in older adults. Yet the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory and visual and language development are rich in vitamin E so it makes sense to make sure your kid is consuming it.
Add sunflower seeds to oatmeal, salads and baked goods or serve with fruit for a healthy, brain-boosting snack.
Rich in antioxidants, beets also contain nitrates which increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain which make them one of the best brain-boosting foods for kids.
In fact, an October 2015 study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found drinking a glass of beetroot juice can improve cognitive performance.
Beets can be a tough sell for kids (and adults) but it may be easier if you incorporate them into a fresh homemade juice with a sweet fruit like apple. Or try this roasted beet and white bean dip, which was a hit with my kids.
Folate, or vitamin B9 is well known to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy, but folate is also important for brain function and necessary to make neurotransmitters in the brain.
The more frequently you serve spinach, the more likely your kids will eat it. Add some spinach to an omelet, a vegetarian lasagna or chicken “roll-up,” or incorporate it into a breakfast smoothie or fresh green juice.
Although it’s a seed, quinoa is often grouped with other whole grains foods like brown rice and whole-grain cereal which are great sources of B vitamins. B vitamins support the nervous system and studies show may prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Serve quinoa for breakfast with fruit and cinnamon, as a side at dinner or mixed into a yogurt parfait.
Beans are an excellent source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber which will help your child stay focused and on task but they’re also another great source of B vitamins.
Swap meat for beans in any dish, make a vegetarian chili or serve them as a snack or an appetizer before dinner.
Since oats are digested slowly, they’ll stave off hunger and keep your kids focused longer. In fact, a June 2005 study out of Tufts University found when kids ate oatmeal for breakfast they had improved cognitive performance, memory and auditory attention.
Oats are a great breakfast option but you can also use them to make gluten-free bread or energy bites.