Brain-Boosting Foods

Get ready for finals with these memory-enhancing foods that also improve concentration.

  • Nuts
    By Holley Johnson, R.D., Food Editor,


    Niacin and vitamin E are two key nutrients found in nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews that are linked to improved brain function. These nutrients help to maintain brain power and reduce memory lost. Other sources of niacin are poultry, beans, and enriched grains while vitamin E is also predominant in vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.

    Recipe: Indian-Spiced Roasted Nuts

  • Water
    By Holley Johnson, R.D., Food Editor,


    Dehydration decreases mental energy and impairs memory so sip on water or other non-caffeinated beverages like green tea or juice throughout the day to relax the brain and stay alert. Also try snacking on fruits and vegetables with high water content, like melons, oranges, and celery.
  • Blueberries
    By Holley Johnson, R.D., Food Editor,


    Blueberry research is booming with exciting news that this antioxidant-rich fruit, also known as the "brain berry," has the ability to protect against short-term memory loss. At just 40 calories and 2 grams of fiber per half-cup, this wonder fruit also has the ability to help lower cholesterol and reduce cancer risk.

    Recipe: Angel Food Shortcakes

  • Eggs
    By Holley Johnson, R.D., Food Editor,


    Eggs contain an essential nutrient called choline that increases the rate signals are sent and received by the brain. Recent studies suggest that choline boosts alertness and enhances memory. Other foods that contain choline are soy beans, cauliflower, and peanut butter.
    Eaten for breakfast, eggs offer a double whammy of benefits because eating in the morning boosts memory skills, improves alertness, positively impacts concentration, and aides in the absorption of information.

    Recipe: Shrimp and Bacon Deviled Eggs

  • Dark Chocolate
    By Holley Johnson, R.D., Food Editor,

    Dark Chocolate

    Sharpen the mind by eating high-quality, high cocoa percentage dark chocolate. Studies suggest that the cocoa flavonols in dark chocolate enhance blood flow to the brain and can help increase performance with certain tasks.

    Recipe: Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • Salmon
    By Holley Johnson, R.D., Food Editor,


    Maintain brain power and improve intellectual performance with omega-3 fatty acids. This healthy fat source most commonly found in fish, such as salmon, builds important gray matter and cell membranes in the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in canola oil, peanut butter, walnuts, flaxseeds, and avocados.

    Recipe: Salmon on Greens with Lime-Ginger Dressing

  • Brain Boosting Foods
    By Holley Johnson, R.D., Food Editor,, Photo: Randy Mayor

    Brain Boosting Foods

    It’s a no brainer... what we eat and drink has a direct impact on how our brains function and is key for optimal brain health. Eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants has a positive impact on everything from memory retention and increased concentration to improved sensory motor skills. When finals, standardized testing, or an all-day planning meeting at the office roll around, make sure to fill up on no-fail brain foods like salmon, blueberries, and even dark chocolate.

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