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Feature

Brain boosters to chew on

It's been said that eating the right foods can boost your memory and focus, especially for exam and revision days
by Chrystal Chan

Wild salmon containing essential fatty acids
Wild salmon
Seventy percent fat, the brain requires essential fatty acids like omega-3s to function properly. Salmon is known to be a good source of these fatty acids.
Walnuts rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Walnuts
Walnuts have the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids among all nuts, which can boost the functioning of neurotransmitters, vital for memory and intellectual activities.
Potassium-rich spinach leaves
Spinach
High in potassium, spinach helps improve the speed of signal transmission between brain cells.
A bowl of flavonoid-rich blueberries
Blueberries
Flavonoids in blueberries play a key role in improving memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Flavonoids also help to protect the brain from free radicals, which are associated with memory decline.
A stack of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate
Dark chocolate
This antioxidant-rich favourite is healthy for grey matter – it has caffeine, which sharpens mental acuity, and flavonoids that improve blood flow to the brain.
Three choline-rich eggs
Eggs
This is a good source of choline, which helps in developing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that aids your memory for important things like that super-long mathematical formula.
Liver with high levels of biotin
Liver
To keep your brain well oiled with glucose – considered sheer energy for the brain – take animal liver, which has high levels of biotin, a vitamin critical for the creation of glucose in our liver.
A cup of carbohydrate-rich oats
Oats
Carbohydrate-rich oats help power your brain. Since your body breaks down carbohydrates in whole-grain oats very slowly, one cup of oats in the morning can keep you sharp for several hours.

What experts say

As the main source of energy for our brain activity comes from glucose, it is important to maintain a constant blood glucose level. Therefore, to keep your brain sharp during exams, opt for carbohydrate-rich foods as part of a balanced diet. But don’t eat too much dark chocolate to avoid caffeine-related symptoms such as nervousness.
- Prof William Chen, Director of the Food Science & Technology programme in NTU

It is thought that omega-3 fatty acids, found in certain fish, nuts and oils, can aid the growth of new cells and improve the communication ability of the synapses in the brain, believed to be important for brain memory storage. However, studies have not conclusively proven the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on humans.
- Prof George Augustine, Professor of Neuroscience and Mental Health at
NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

Fish, particular salmon, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which cannot be produced by our bodies and have to be sourced from our diets. Recent clinical studies have shown that these fatty acids can help to improve the brain’s reaction time and ability to retain and manipulate information. It’s even good for the heart.
- Prof Jorgen Schlundt, Director of the NTU Food Technology Centre