Nicky Park: Six snacks to boost your brain

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Relentless social media, constant communications, a rumbling belly, casual banter with your colleagues - there are 8756 ways to get distracted from your daily to-do list. Goodness knows I'm prone to all of them.

But don't you love that satisfaction that comes with a productive day in the workplace? Or when the sun goes down on an active Saturday? Rather than smashing your way through half a dozen lattes, or being tempted to ride through the afternoon on a sugar high, here are some foods that will help you stay focused.

Photo/Thinkstock
Photo/Thinkstock

1. Walnuts: These nuts look just like a brain, so it makes sense that they're packed with good stuff for your grey matter. The British Journal of Nutrition reported that eating half a cup of walnuts a day for eight weeks increased reasoning skills by nearly 12 per cent in students. And, according to a report in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease the antioxidants in walnuts could even fight an aging brain.

Eat it: Crunch up a handful and toast them in the oven with a bunch of other oats and seeds, or bake them in to a sugar-free banana loaf.

2. Blueberries I've written before about the bountiful blueberry. These little fruits are packed with 27 different pigment and tannins that are major players in helping prevent disease. They're also full of antioxidants that can make you feel energised. There's evidence to suggest blueberries could reduce the effect of dementia and can even improve learning. Good news: blueberries retain a lot of their goodness when frozen so you can get them in your diet all year round.

Eat it: Blitz up a handful with some almond milk, oats, chia seeds and half a banana for a delicious smoothie.

Photo/Thinkstock
Photo/Thinkstock


3. Salmon What youR folks always said about fish making you smart, well, it's true. Oily fish provides the body with long chain Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for brain function, and our body can't produce them on its own.

Eat it: Find some fresh salmon sushi or sashimi or throw some canned fish on a salad.

Photo/Thinkstock
Photo/Thinkstock


4. Green tea The process of brewing a pot of tea is therapeutic for me. And making a cup of green tea your afternoon ritual will give your brain a mighty boost. Recent research from a university in China found that a chemical found in green tea improves memory, both short and long term. The study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, explains that the part of the brain activated by green tea is also associated with problem solving and focus. Holistic nutritionist Dr Libby Weaver says the great thing about green tea is that it provides a caffeine hit, which will enhance concentration. However, the herbal brew also contains an amino-acid called L-theanine which buffers the effect and calms the nervous system. Perfecto!

Eat it: Grab yourself a pot, leave green tea bags or fresh leaves to brew for three minutes then share it around.

Photo/Thinkstock
Photo/Thinkstock


5. Broccoli: Aside from being one of the best foods for you, this green veggie is packed with vitamin K and choline. Choline helps brain development and could help in retrieving stored memory. Vitamin K strengths and develops cognitive function. Look out kale, I reckon the humble broccoli is going to be the next sexy superfood.

Eat it: Steam or stir-fry with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Photo/Thinkstock
Photo/Thinkstock


6. Pumpkin seeds These little guys, also known as pepitas, are really high in zinc which has been linked with improved memory. They're full of trace minerals like magnesium, manganese and phosphorus which are great for brain health. Magnesium has a calming effect on the brain so will help you focus your thoughts. It's also been suggested that pumpkin seeds can boost your mood - the omega-3 fatty acids improve mental health and memory.

Eat it: You can throw pumpkin seeds in just about anything - I like them best in omelets and salads. Or toast some in the oven for a crunchy snack.

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Nicky Park

Editor of Life & Style.

Nicky lives to wine, dine and thrive. As Life & Style Editor at the New Zealand Herald online, she feels lucky she can call this work. Nicky crafted her writing skills as a cadet for an Australian news wire. Amongst the coverage of sport, news, finance and courts she found a favourite in features. A stint as a foreign correspondent sent this chipper Aussie across the Tasman, covering the big issues of the Pacific Islands. Every single day Nicky relishes the opportunities she has to mix and mingle with interesting people, feast on delicious food, visit new places and write all about it. Nicky wants everyone to make the most of their minutes, learn lots and live their best life.

Read more by Nicky Park

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