Fuel Your Brain for Finals

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We all know that studying hard will help you ace your final exams, but it is also very important to maintain healthy eating habits during times of high stress to help you focus and do your best.  

Dr. Sujatha Palat from Stony Brook’s Student Health Service, says, “I always advise the students to make sure they are making healthy choices regarding food and drink, staying well hydrated, eating regularly without skipping  meals (along with getting good sleep) especially around exams, so they stay healthy and maintain a strong immune system.”

The good news is, there are foods that can fight stress and give your brain a helpful boost while you study for finals, says Campus Dining dietitian Stephanie May.

avocadoAvocados: Did you know avocados contain stress-relieving B vitamins and potassium? They also contain lutein, which is a carotenoid that is related to better cognition. When eating an avocado, be mindful of your portion size, which is about 1/3 of the avocado since this fruit is high in fat. Just a few slices make the perfect addition to a sandwich, salad or meal.

Fish: Including fish in your diet several times a week will support brain health. Salmon and other fatty fish such as tuna contain stress-fighting nutrients like heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti inflammatory too, so they work to reduce inflammation or stress in the body.

trailmixNuts: What better way to snack during finals than eating some nuts while you study. The vitamins and zinc in almonds, pistachios and walnuts boost your immune system,* which may be depressed by high-stress levels. Almonds are also high in vitamin E and minerals, which boost your brain power. Walnuts are a brain food that are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can improve cell communication and growth. Try making your own trail mix with ¼ cup nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.), ¼ cup seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.), ¼ cup of whole grain cereal and 2 tablespoons of dried fruit for sweetness.

Blueberries: These blue fruits might be tiny, but are rich in antioxidants that reduce stress on the brain and have been shown to improve learning capacity. They are great by themselves, but you can also add them to oatmeal, cereal or a salad for added flavor and antioxidant power.

quinoaWhole Grains: Full of fiber and micronutrients, these complex carbohydrates include foods such as oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice, which all help to fuel the brain. The soluble fiber in these grains helps to remove cholesterol from the body and prevents plaques from forming in the arteries. Clear arteries help ensure proper blood flow to the brain.

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*Source: Poulose, Shibu M., and And Marshall G. Miller. “Shibu M. Poulose.” Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age. N.p., 01 Apr. 2014.

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