Foods to eat during finals that improve brain function

By Ashley Berger

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story


As the semester comes to a close and finals lurk just around the corner, it is conducive to studying habits to eat the best food possible in order to ace tough exams. The brain needs specific nutrients and vitamins to function at its maximum potential.

So while that Monster energy drink and taco salad from Campus Center may seem like the most appealing and satisfying food, it is not helpful or beneficial to the brain in studying for or taking an exam. The only thing those foods will result in is jittery hands and an unnecessary amount of empty calories. Instead of reaching for cheap or easy fixes, try something with a little more healthful sustenance.

Colorful Fruits

An easy and convenient snack, fruits are great to assist in the quick recall of information. Some exceptionally good fruits for memory recollection are cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, plums, pineapple and kiwi. Avocados are known to direct blood flow to the brain due to their high monounsaturated fat levels. Berries are another fruit known for having particularly useful benefits; blueberries help to improve motor skills and strawberries aid memory recollection. With this information, remember the revised version of the classic saying: a fruit a day keeps final exam pain at bay!


While dark chocolate is known to have various health benefits, it also proves to be a helpful study aid. Chocolate releases endorphins, which in turn help to increase focus and concentration. The makeup of dark chocolate helps get the blood supply flowing to improve cognitive skills. If the bitterness of dark chocolate is unappealing, its milk counterpart also has some powerful benefits. Milk chocolate enhances verbal and visual memory while also sharpening control and reaction time. Break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar!


While this may seem like a basic and boring suggestion, water is necessary and important to hydrate the brain. Since the brain is composed mainly of water, it needs constant reinforcements to function properly. If the brain does not have sufficient amounts of water, it secretes a hormone called cortisol, which essentially decreases the storage capacity of memory. Cortisol also produces adrenaline, which negatively impacts mental and cognitive functions. Drinking plenty of water will help to keep both the brain and memory alert.

Falling asleep sitting up? Tea is a better caffeinated choice than coffee or energy drinks, which possesses many hidden health benefits. When brewed, tea releases nutrients called catechins that help to mentally relax. Tea also improves focus and memory, therefore working as a brain enhancer.

Iron and Soy Rich Foods

Difficulty concentrating and having trouble remembering exactly what a professor just lectured on could be a result of lack of iron. Research shows that people with high iron levels help their brains to speed up the thinking processes. Iron, which is found in beans and red meat, helps to provide the brain with the oxygen it needs to function properly. Foods that are high in soy, such as soy milk or tofu, help to slow memory loss and prevents plaque from depositing on the brain. Soy products also help improve cognitive function and logical memory.

Nuts, Seeds and Grains

These small but hearty snacks are valuable when it comes to studying. Nuts come in a great deal of varieties that appeal to many different taste buds. They are also rich in nutrients that serve to help many different bodily functions. Nuts contain Vitamin E and Vitamin B6, folate, Omega-3 and Omega-6, and a variety of antioxidants.

Seeds are a good addition to any diet during this time as well. In particular, flaxseeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids which help retain memory. For a more festive study treat, roasted pumpkin seeds contain the relaxing chemical called tryptophan, famous for its supposed post-Thanksgiving napping effect.

Grains also contain many beneficial nutrients, including which helps the mind grow. Foods containing grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, barley, cereal and popcorn improve blood flow to the brain. These products may seem dull, so add in some raisins, chocolate pieces or dried fruit to make a tasty and homemade brain-happy trail mix.

Ashley Berger can be reached at [email protected]