Eating the right kinds of foods is a great way to stay physically healthy, but nutrition is also important when it comes to academic performance. In fact, the foods you eat on a regular basis can play a big role in how well you do at school. Certain foods that support brain health, known as brain foods, should be part of your diet. These foods can help you retain information, better understand the material you’re learning, and improve other cognitive skills.
When you’re working on your MBA, it’s important to make sure your brain stays in good shape. Whether you’re trying to master applied statistics or learn business strategy, you’ll need plenty of brain power for your classes. What foods can help you study? Add the following brain foods to your list when you head to the grocery store. Keep these foods around, and your brain will be ready to tackle all of the skills and knowledge you’ll need for your MBA.
- Whole Grains
If you normally eat refined grains, such as white bread or pasta, make the switch to whole grains. These grains are known as complex carbs, which provide your brain with a steady supply of glucose for energy. Refined grains are simple carbs that can provide a quick boost of energy. However, your body also uses these simple carbs up quickly, leading to a crash in your energy level. As complex carbs, whole grains supply you with the brain power needed for a day of classes or an evening working on school projects. They also contain a B vitamin known as folate, which can help boost your memory.
You can easily add whole grains to your diet. When you’re at the store, look for breads, pastas, cereals, and other products that list whole wheat as an ingredient rather than refined wheat. Brown rice, oatmeal, and popcorn are other kinds of whole grains you can stock up on.
Fresh fruit is healthy to eat in general, but some fruits provide more brain power than others. Blueberries, for example, are known for being brain foods that can help improve memory and concentration. According to a study published in Neural Regeneration Research, blueberries helped increase blood flow to parts of the brain associated with memory and attention. Berries also contain nutrients called flavanols which help your body repair cell damage. These antioxidant properties support brain health and might even lower the risk of memory problems and other cognitive problems later on in life.
On your next trip to the grocery store, stock up on fresh berries, frozen berries, or both. You can eat fresh blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and other berries as snacks. You can also add berries to oatmeal, cereal, or other foods to sweeten them up and make them more nutritious. Berries are also a good ingredient to use in smoothies.
- Leafy Greens
Having plenty of vegetables in your daily diet is important in general, but leafy greens have an added benefit. These greens can give your memory skills a boost and slow cognitive decline as you get older. A 2017 study published in Neurology found that eating cooked spinach, cooked kale or collard greens, or raw lettuce helped slow cognitive decline. Having these leafy greens can help ensure that your memory stays sharp for your MBA classes. These vegetables contain vitamin C and other antioxidants that help keep brain cells healthy. They also have folate, which supports healthy blood flow to the brain and decreases inflammation.
You can use leafy greens such as spinach and kale as a salad base. Or cook Swiss chard, spinach or mustard greens as a side dish for dinner or lunch.
- Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as trout and salmon, might not seem healthy if you focus on the fact that they contain fat. However, these types of fish have healthy fats. The fats in salmon and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to improved cognitive skills and brain health in general. A 2016 study published in Neurology showed that obtaining these healthy fats from food sources, such as salmon, led to improved thinking skills.
When it comes to eating fatty fish, keep in mind that this shouldn’t be a daily part of your diet. Fatty fish contain cholesterol, so you should limit eating them to once or twice a week. Avoid frying these fish in butter, since this increases the amount of unhealthy fats you’re eating. Instead, grill them or bake them for a healthy lunch or dinner.
- Dark Chocolate
Chocolate can be a delicious and satisfying treat, but did you know that it might also help your brain perform better? Dark chocolate, in particular, has been associated with improvements in brain function, including memory and other cognitive tasks. This chocolate contains flavanols and other compounds that provide antioxidant properties which help protect your brain cells from damage. Dark chocolate might also boost blood flow to your brain, which is important for developing cognitive skills you’ll need when earning your MBA.
While dark chocolate is a brain food, you should still enjoy it in moderation rather than having too much of it. Snack on a few pieces of dark chocolate for an afternoon brain boost or have some of this chocolate for dessert after dinner or lunch.
Walnuts and other nuts provide a great snack when you want something crunchy. While you’re snacking away on them, keep in mind that they could be boosting your brain health. A 2020 study published in Nutrients found that a diet rich in walnuts helped improve cognitive function and brain health. Nuts have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help support blood flow to the brain while reducing the risk of damage. Having nuts as part of your diet might help improve your memory and boost other cognitive skills.
Keeping walnuts and other nuts around your home provides you with a nutritious and simple snack. You can also add nuts to your morning bowl of cereal or oatmeal, or sprinkle chopped or slivered almonds, walnuts, or other nuts on salads.
Black beans, kidney beans, and other beans provide your body with B vitamins which help promote a healthy brain. Beans might help boost your memory skills and thinking skills, so you can perform better on exams or focus more when working on assignments or projects for your MBA degree. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that beans fortified with iron led to improved cognitive performance in female college students between 18 and 27 years of age.
You can make beans to serve as a side dish when you have lunch or dinner. You can also add beans to salads, soups, and other recipes. When you are grocery shopping, look for pastas made with beans rather than flour to obtain even more of these brain-healthy nutrients.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in business, reach out to UTC about our Master of Business Administration program. We offer different ways to work on achieving your MBA, including a 100% Online MBA program and a Flexible MBA program of in-person and online learning.