Food to Help College Students Study

By Rebecca Buckman
April 5, 2022

I am now a senior in college. I have taken years of exams and hours of studying with one goal: to meet deadlines. Throughout the years of learning tips and tricks on how to study, one thing I had to consider as a foodie is, “What can I eat to help my brain function better?” Having the knowledge of what foods help with studying can be beneficial for any college student looking to help concentration and focus. 

I want to point out that brain food is not processed foods, junk foods, sugary snacks, soda or energy drinks. These are foods you don’t want to eat if you are trying to help your brain and body. If you want to eat foods to help focus then I would suggest staying away from junk food. I know that it is easy to grab a bag of chips or go through McDonalds, but these foods are called junk food for a reason. 

Why Brain Food is Important

A human brain is made up of 60% of fat, according to MedPub. Brain foods are high in fats and oils, Omega 3, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B, and also Flavonoids. Though our brains needs these types of foods for fuel, these are highly recommended in moderation. Balance your meals with veggies and fruit. Eating a lot of protein is good and there are a lot of low calorie options, like skinless chicken breast and protein shakes. 

I once had a psych professor highly suggest that I eat whole wheat toast, eggs, avocado, and butter for my breakfast before an exam. She said it will help support my brain’s focus and memory. I know what you’re thinking, “Butter!?”. Like I mentioned, in moderation, fats like butter are good for your brain. I’m not suggesting you eat a whole stick, though I wouldn’t judge. Here are some recommended foods to help you with studying.

Brain Food

Avocados

Avocados are one of the healthier foods we have access to. They are high in healthy fats and vitamins that help concentration and memory. 

Fish

Fish, like salmon, are high in omega-3’s that are the best for your brain. The best salmon to get is wild-caught salmon. Farm bred salmon is too high in mercury, which is bad at high levels.

Nuts

Walnuts are good for your mental alertness; the walnut even looks very similar to the brain.

Greens: Broccoli, Kale, and Celery

Broccoli and kale are packed with vitamins that are great for your memory. Similar to kale, celery has anti-inflammatories and is low in calories. Celery is a healthy treat to eat during studying.

Fruits 

Berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are nature’s candy. They are deliciously sweet and increase blood flow to the brain which will help with performance. Similar to berries, citrus juice increases brain performance by increasing blood flow to the brain as well. Citrus juice should be utilized and enjoyed in moderation. 

Dark Chocolate

Milk chocolate has stolen our hearts, and even though dark chocolate may not be as sweet, it helps brain performance the same way that berries and citrus fruits do. You won’t have to feel guilty for snacking on it because of the lower sugar levels. 

Eggs

Eggs have a bad rep because of the high cholesterol concerns, but the nutrients in eggs are needed for your brain’s health. It helps with cognition, memory, coordination and motor performance. It is also a great way to start the day with protein!

Oils

Extra virgin olive oil is the best brain food, filled with antioxidants, and is great for memory. 

Seeds 

Chia seeds are full of protein, fiber, and omega-3’s, which are very healthy for digestion and makes for a simple brain food. 

For me this list is full of foods that I don’t have easy access to or they just do not sound appealing to me but  are very beneficial. I believe that as a student who works very hard, I deserve to invest some good self-care into my routine, starting with my diet.

Some Great Recipe Ideas

Here are a few good ideas for recipes to help incorporate some of these ingredients:

1. Have a parfait with walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and berries. This will not only help your gut but will start your day with a delicious breakfast to fuel your brain. 

2. Mix up a protein smoothie with berries and ground chia seeds; add some kale for a kick. 

3. For a delicious snack, kick it old school with some celery and peanut butter. 

4. When you cook up any food or make a salad dressing, use some extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil. 

5. If you go out with friends and family, order salmon with a side of broccoli. 

6. For late night studying, mix up some dark chocolate, berries, and nuts. 

7. Grab some tortilla chips and make some guacamole!

How to Get Started

Starting off slowly by just adding some of these items to your diet would be a great investment into yourself. If you don’t eat any of these brain food items, I would recommend the following. Start by dedicating one meal to add something from this list. I wouldn’t recommend you just fill your diet with these items and quit your previous diet.  This would just be unsatisfying to you and you will hate life. I would suggest incorporating this brain food when you have to study for exams.  I like to eat at least one meal a day full of these ingredients for a week, before a big exam. Then, the night before and the morning of, I eat some good brain food. 

Because some of the items I suggest are high in fat, getting out to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day would help prevent unhealthy weight gain. Also, when taking a break from studying, take a walk instead of binging a season on Netflix or staring at TikTok. Walks have always helped refresh my brain and made studying easier. 

Conclusion

Though there are more great foods for studying, I have personally used these brain foods to help me study. I can highly recommend each of them and I have seen great results when studying. So, next exam, remember these foods and take in consideration to add to your food intake. This can be a fun test for yourself and see what works for your brain! Click here and here for more resources about brain food that helps with studying.  

Natural Foods That Will Give Your Brain and Body Fuel