After a fun-filled holiday complete with sugar-laden goodies, kids need some healthy back to school brain food to get the next term started off right. Actually, kids and the adults in their lives often need a brain boost after a holiday or a long weekend of relaxation and fun.
To help the children in your life head back from the holiday break ready to learn, add “brain foods” to their diet and improve their brain’s concentration, function, and memory. As organs go, the brain is first in line in absorption of nutrients from food which means nutrient rich foods promise a brain boost and junk foods fall short! Dietary choices really do make a difference in mood, energy, concentration, behavior, and academic performance. The impact of nutritious food on the brain is not only short term, but effects brain function and performance for the years ahead.
Let’s explore some kid-friendly brain foods for back to school all year long:
Berries – colorful, sweet, juicy, bite-sized, and packed with nutrition – are the perfect brain food for kids. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries deliver powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C as well as omega-3 fatty acids in their seeds. The nutrients in berries help to prevent cancer while they enhance memory, cognitive skills, and motor function. Berries are a great snack, but can also be added to vegetables or salads to encourage picky eaters. Berries are great for breakfast, too, when added to yogurt as well as hot and cold cereals.
Yogurt, along with most dairy products are great brain boosters, packed with B-vitamins, protein, healthy gut-friendly bacteria, calcium, and vitamin D. These nutrient powerhouses help with the growth of brain tissue and neurotransmitters, along with the delivery of a positive energy supply for the brain. Greek yogurt had double the protein of regular yogurt making it an even better option. Let kids create a fun yogurt snack by layering nuts, yogurt, and berries.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts and nut butters are good sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, which help the brain and nervous system perform better. On top of that, nuts and nut butters are packed with protein and healthy unsaturated fats. Whether your kids love nut or their nut butter counterparts – peanuts, cashews, almonds, or sunflower butters are great brain food options. Most kids enjoy nuts which are yummy on their own, but for those who don’t, nut butters can make an excellent choice for sandwiches and crackers or as a dip for celery or apples.
Oats and Oatmeal
Oats are well-known for their cholesterol lowering properties, but did you know that oats are known as one of the best whole grains for your kids’ brains? Oats are loaded with fiber and fuel for a healthy body and brain. Additionally, oats deliver vitamin E, the B vitamins, potassium, and zinc, all responsible for promoting brain function while the iron in oats supports the development of a healthy brain. Kids will enjoy oatmeal topped with bananas, applesauce, berries, honey, or nuts, plus you can add oats to pancakes, waffles, muffins, or even smoothies for an added brain boost.
Encouraging kids to eat their vegetables has just become easier when you urge them to “eat the rainbow.” Colorful veggies in rainbow colors – tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, celery – are rich in antioxidants and promise to keep your kids’ brain healthy and strong, delivering added cognitive and motor function. To add even more excitement for veggies, try adding fruits to spinach salads, baking up some sweet potato fries, or enhancing sauces and soups with veggies.