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Final exams: Brain foods for studying, concentration and memory

Dark chocolate. Picture: Pexels

Dark chocolate. Picture: Pexels

Published Nov 2, 2023


When preparing for my exams years ago, I often wondered if there were brain foods for studying that improved my concentration. Turns out, there are!

The food you put into your body can have a huge impact on how your brain works. This is important to remember around exam time when you are probably paying more attention to books than breakfast.

As a student, you should learn how the food you eat affects your body so you can choose foods that improve your memory, fuel your brain, and help you smash your study schedule.

While there is no magic food that will boost your brain power overnight, some foods may help you focus in the moment.

Avocado and egg toast. Picture: Pexels/Jane Doan

Research shows that the best brain foods are the same ones that protect your heart and blood vessels.

These include the following:

Avocado and egg toast

Toast a slice of whole-grain bread, and top it with mashed avocado, and a boiled or poached egg. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. This toast combines the brain-boosting benefits of avocados and eggs, providing a balanced mix of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates for sustained energy.

Oily fish

Adding fish and seafood to your diet may enhance memory and boost overall brain health.

Eating fish may also help slow mental decline. Aim to have at least three servings of oily fish a week, which can be part of main meals or snacks, for example, sardines on toast with an avocado spread.

Dark chocolate. Picture: Pexels

Dark chocolate

If your sweet tooth kicks in while you are studying, reach for chocolate – but make sure it’s dark chocolate.

Studies suggest that dark chocolate and cocoa products may have positive effects on brain function. Older research has also found that eating chocolate may help reduce mental fatigue.

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds include zinc, a nutrient that helps your metabolism and immune system. Snacking on pumpkin seeds when you need an afternoon pick-me-up can help with your memory and thinking skills.

Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw, but many people enjoy roasted pumpkin seeds. To roast them, coat the seeds with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can also add pumpkin seeds to a salad, smoothie, oatmeal or home-made granola.

Beetroot juice. Picture: Pexels/Roman Odintsov


Beetroot is rich in nitrates, which may help improve blood flow to the brain, nerve cell communication, and overall brain health.

Studies have linked beet juice consumption to improved performance on tests. You can add beetroot to your salads or eat it as a salad itself, or drink beetroot juice shots.