Eating, snacking provides cognitive boost

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Finals week is right around the corner. Students may not know this, but the difference between remembering what is on their study guides or not could be as simple as what and when they are eating.

There are “brain foods” that can improve cognitive performance as well as blood flow, which is essential for the brain, according to the WebMD article “Brain foods that will that will help you concentrate.”

The article lists foods like fish, blueberries, nuts and seeds, whole grains, avocados and even dark chocolate as foods that can improve blood flow, concentration and promote memory.

Tandalayo Kidd, associate professor in the Department of Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health, said breakfast, sleep and exercise are among the most important things for any student’s brain.

“I would imagine the average college student ate breakfast as a kid,” Kidd said. “I don’t know where it changed where breakfast was no longer a priority.”

Alex Seely, senior in marketing, and Nicole Pisterzi, sophomore in family studies, both said breakfast is a must for them.

Seely said she eats eggs and a piece of toast every day for breakfast, and she would not feel the same without it.

“I love eggs more than anything ever,” Seely said. “And I like to put eggs and salsa together.”

Pisterzi also said eggs are a staple to her breakfast, along with fruit. She said breakfast is important not just for her, but for other students as well.

“I heard that if you miss breakfast then your body is going through a starvation mode and holds onto more calories throughout the day,” Pisterzi said.

Pisterzi is right, according to the Livestrong.com article “Side effects of not eating breakfast,” by Shavon Jackson-Michel. Skipping breakfast can lead to obesity, menstrual irregularities, lowered cognition, bad mood and other physical side effects like headaches.

Kidd said many young people do not eat breakfast due to lack of time and will have a cup of coffee in the morning and think it is a good substitute. She said protein shakes as a breakfast substitute works, but coffee does not.

Pisterzi said she recommends that students who are short on time in the morning fix something easy and quick, like yogurt or fruit.

As for snacking, Seely and Pisterzi both said they do not snack often, but they do have their preferred snacks.

Seely said if she does snack, it is usually not while studying, and it is carrots and hummus.

Pisterzi said if she is going to snack, it is sweet potatoes or dried mango.

Seely said she would consider snacking on one of WebMD’s “brain foods” if it helped her study.

“I love almonds,” Seely said. “My two favorites are the lightly salted and the wasabi ones.”

Kidd said she recommends making your own trail mix out of sunflower seeds, oats, cheerios and dark chocolate chips.

Kidd said some people will think they cannot concentrate because they are stressed, but in many cases it could be an effect of their diet.

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