5 Awesome ‘Brain Foods’ and How to Get Your Kids to Eat Them

5 Awesome ‘Brain Foods’ and How to Get Your Kids to Eat Them

These five brain foods will give a serious nutritional boost to your kid’s lunch box.

By: Colleen Oakley

Tired of making PB&Js for brown bag school lunches? Check out these five brain foods that your kids will love -- and will help them ace that math test.

Blueberries. Packed with good-for-you antioxidants, blueberries have been found to improve memory and learning capacity in multiple studies. And make sure you pop a few too -- researchers have also found that they help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
How to get your kid to eat them: Make this easy homemade blueberry sauce and mix it in with a cup of plain yogurt, says Laura Fuentes, author of The Best Homemade Kids Lunches on the Planet. “This is an easy replacement for sugary treats and fake puddings in the lunchbox,” she says.

Dark leafy greens. Leafy veggies like Swiss chard and kale are full of carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that is especially good at protecting your brain from free radicals. In fact, a recent Harvard study found that women who ate the most dark leafy veggies lowered their brain age by one to two years.
How to get your kids to eat them: Hide them in a smoothie! “I love filling a mason jar with a smoothie, throwing it in the freezer the night before, and then sticking it in my kid’s lunchbox,” says Fuentes. The bonus? It keeps everything else in the lunchbox cool. Try Fuentes’ Chocolate Green Smoothie for a treat kids will love.

Walnuts. Forget the peanut butter! Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega fatty acid that helps develop more than three dozen neurotransmitters in the brain. Studies have also found that diets rich in walnuts help improve memory.
How to get your kids to eat them: Grind them up in this pesto. “It’s got a great nutty flavor that my kids love,” says Fuentes. “I put it on whole-wheat pasta for a quick and easy lunch.”

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Whole grains. Fiber-rich foods like brown rice, oatmeal and whole-grain bread stabilize your blood sugar levels. This is important because it keeps you from “crashing” and allows kids to remain focused and able to concentrate in class.
How to get your kids to eat them: Swap out white bread for whole grain for their PB&Js. Or make the Brown Rice Krispy Treats, as a special dessert that you can both feel good about, says Fuentes.

Dark chocolate. A recent British study found that dark chocolate boosts blood flow in key areas of the brain for up to two to three hours after eating it -- improving performance in specific tasks like test-taking and memory recall.
How to get your kids to eat it: Most kids turn their noses up at dark chocolate and it’s not-as-sweet flavor. But whip up a chocolate milk with this homemade chocolate syrup and you’ll have them begging for more.

What are your favorite recipes made from these “brain foods”?

Colleen Oakley is a writer, novelist, and mom of two rambunctious toddlers in Atlanta, GA.

Image ©iStock.com/La_vanda

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