6 Brain-Boosting Foods to Feed Your Children
The foods your children eat have a huge impact on their growth. It isn’t just their physical growth, either. By having your kids chow down on the right foods, you’re helping their brains to develop properly. In fact, certain superfoods even have the power to keep your little ones focused and sharp throughout the day. “These years are critical for brain development, and what they eat affects focus and cognitive skills,” psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, coauthor of The Happiness Diet, says to Web MD.
While kids may prefer sugary snacks and treats, the foods they eat impact their academic growth and performance. Providing them with healthy and nutrient-rich meals and snacks will keep them focused to do well in school, while their brain continues to grow and develop. Sounds like a win-win, right? Here is a list of six brain-boosting foods your children should be eating.
Eggs are filled with nutrients, including choline, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and lutein. All of these nutrients will help your kids to concentrate, according to Web MD. Choline is exceptionally important; it’s key for brain development and memory function. Additionally, choline helps the brain communicate with the rest of the body, What To Expect writes.
So how can you get your kids to say yes to this brain-boosting food? Make scrambled eggs and fold them into a whole-grain tortilla, which will serve as a delicious breakfast or late-afternoon snack. “The protein-carb combo tides kids over until the next meal with no sugar-induced energy crash,” Beth Saltz, RD, tells Web MD.
Eating fish on a regular basis seems to have an effect on the size of our brains, Jill Castle, MS, RD, writes. It even has the ability to slow the aging process of the brain. The magical ingredient found in fish that makes it all possible? Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s present in fatty fish and can help your children with problem solving, concentration, and memory, according to Jill Castle.
Try to get your children in the fish-eating habit as early as you can. Strive for two servings per week of fish that qualifies as fatty, such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, and trout, but even one serving will do the trick. Always try to limit mercury-containing fish. Looking for ideas? What To Expect suggests serving salmon fillets for dinner, or putting salmon salad (make it as you would tuna salad) on whole grain bread or a pita pocket. Your child’s brain will thank you!
Brains are exposed to toxins on a regular basis, which can easily cause damage. Livestrong writes that a great way to protect the brain and even counter some of that damage is by eating lots of antioxidants, particularly berries such as strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. In addition to the antioxidants working to protect the brain from neurological damage, berries are also able to improve communication between brain cells, per Sierra EEG.
The great thing about this food? There are tons of ways to serve them up. If your kids are fruit eaters, offer them a bowl of washed berries for a snack; you can even sprinkle some granola in as well. You could also make your children a berry-packed smoothie for breakfast, or use berries, rather than jam, to create a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If you’ve got a yogurt eater on your hands, mix in some berries for an antioxidant- and calcium-packed snack.
4. Whole Grains
Having your child eat whole grains, which includes brown rice, whole wheat, barley, and oats, helps to support brain function, according to Sierra EEG. Whole grains have vitamins that increase blood circulation and help boost your child’s memory. Furthermore, whole grains release glucose at a steady pace, ensuring the pancreas isn’t working overly hard to provide excess insulin, per Sierra EEG.
Simply put, that process keeps your child’s brain supplied with a steady flow of glucose, which keeps them from experiencing a crash mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Without those crashes, your child will be alert and experience improvements in their concentration and memory. To get your kids eating whole grains, start serving them whole-grain cereal or oatmeal for breakfast. Rather than white bread and noodles, use whole-grain bread and pasta instead.
5. Greek Yogurt
Web MD writes that fat plays an important role in brain health. Having your kids eat a full-fat Greek yogurt, which contains more protein than other yogurts, will help keep their brain cell membranes flexible, meaning they’ll be able to more easily send and receive information. According to What To Expect, foods with good-for-you fats help with both brain and eye development and are able to act as a mood stabilizer.
Send your kids off to school with a Greek yogurt packed in their lunch. You can get creative with it, too. Web MD recommends sending some fun mix ins to add to the yogurt, including berries or high-fiber cereal. If you’re looking for a sweet treat to serve for dessert, add a few dark chocolate chips to their bowl.
Both brightly colored and green vegetables qualify as brain boosters. Livestrong writes that brightly colored veggies contain the highest amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Additionally, a 2008 study showed that colorful vegetables contain vitamin E, vitamin A, zinc, and folate, which have been linked to improved neurological performance, resulting in improved test scores in students, according to Livestrong.
Greens, such as spinach and kale, are loaded with folate and vitamins, which have been linked to lowering your odds of getting dementia later in life. “Kale contains sulforaphane, a molecule that has detoxifying abilities, and diindolylmethane, which helps new brain cells grow,” Drew Ramsey, MD, coauthor of 50 Shades of Kale, tells Web MD.
It can often be a struggle to get kids to munch on kale and spinach, but there are certainly ways you can make it appealing to your little ones. Web MD suggests putting spinach in a smoothie for a healthy snack, or adding it to omelets for a brain-boosting breakfast. You can also use kale to make chips: Just cut it from the stems, drizzle with olive oil and a touch of salt, and bake.