Eat Your Way to an “A”

Britta Winans

Even though the 2009 fall semester is coming to a close, there is no celebrating for Villanova students until the dreaded final exams are over. Having just returned from Thanksgiving break and with Christmas break right around the corner, students’ craving for home-cooked food never subsides. The months of November through January consist of a constant spree of one holiday meal after the next. But why should eating frenzies only happen during the holidays?

According to the magazine Psychology Today, people crave rich foods when under constant stress. Therefore, many Villanova students are likely to overeat during the exam period. While eating is necessary for our bodies to function, there are certain foods that can actually enhance learning, decrease stress and stimulate our senses while studying for final exams.

Like Mom always told you, make sure to have a good breakfast in order to start the day off on a good note. Eggs are a rich source of vitamin B and lecithin. They provide essential fatty acids to the brain, and the egg yolk is especially rich in choline, a basic building block of brain cells that helps improve memory.

Have a glass of milk with your omelet. Calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt and cheese help improve nerve function. Also, studies have proven that yogurt helps improve alertness and memory.

If you don’t like milk, how about some tea? Tea improves memory and focus as well as combats mental fatigue. Green tea is the best remedy for mental relaxation and enhances brain activity. Black tea also works to improve brain function.

Lactose intolerant? Try soy. Foods made from organic soybeans like soy milk and tofu are rich in choline, lecithin and isoflavones. Isoflavones help improve cognitive function, category fluency, logical memory, spatial cognition and memory recall.

Eat your fruits and vegetables. According to an article posted on Online University Lowdown, if you fill your plate with all the colors of the rainbow then you’re guaranteed to improve your brain power. Avocados are especially potent in nutrients that increase blood flow to the brain. Other beneficial fruits that have a positive impact on your brain health and help you recall information quickly include cantaloupes, watermelon, tomatoes, plums, pineapples, oranges, apples, grapes, kiwifruits, peaches and cherries. Vegetables like cabbages, kale, turnips, brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, cauliflower, radishes, spinach, mustard greens and water cress all help to retain memory and are great in boosting brain power.

The best brain-stimulating foods are grains like whole wheat, wheat germ and bran. Oatmeal, brown rice, whole-grain breads and cereals, barley and popcorn boost blood flow to the brain. Wholegrain breads and cereals contain vitamin B6, while wheat germ is rich in memory-improving thiamine.

Fish like herring, salmon, tuna, mackerel, halibut, anchovies, sardines and other cold-water fish are all great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are the primary components of the brain and studies have shown that they boost energy and memory power, enhance learning ability, improve problem-solving skills and enhance communication between brain cells.

And last but not least, chocolate! Who says you can’t enjoy one of your guilty pleasures while studying? Chocolate is beneficial for your brain health and can help enhance your mood. Milk chocolate has been shown to improve verbal and visual memory and boost impulse control and reaction time. Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols that boost blood supply to the brain and help improve cognitive skills.

So in honor of the preparation for the holidays, eat all you can during finals. Just don’t chow down on junk. Instead, eat the right foods while studying and reap the benefits of getting good grades while satisfying your hunger cravings.