Nutrition: Boosting Brain Power

I was flipping through an old copy of Oxygen that belonged to my SIL2 when I stumbled across an article that talked about 8 different foods that boost brain power. Well, what’s good for us can also be good for the children, so here are 8 foods you should consider adding to your child’s diet (if you aren’t already):

Nuts

No surprise there. Apparently it also helps protect against Alzheimer’s – do I hear hubby saying I should eat more nuts? Unfortunately, not a good one if your child is allergic to nuts. We’re all good here, but unfortunately, the only nut Aristotle eats is peanut in the form of peanut butter – I wonder if that counts? It seems it is the healthy fats, Vitamin E and folate that help so maybe you could substitute other foods that are high in these if your child can’t eat nuts.

Foods that are high in folate include green leafy vegetables, breakfast cereals (check the labels) and beans. Here’s a chart on folate content in various foods as a guide.

Foods that are high in Vitamin E (aside from nuts) are again cereals and vegetables. Check this chart for Vitamin E content in various foods.

Lean Beef

Now this was a surprise for me. Apparently lean beef is great for number memory (phone numbers, pins, etc.). Again, some people can’t eat beef for various reasons so the key ingredient in beef that is responsible for this benefit is creatine monohydrate. The other food source that provides a good quantity of creatine monohydrate (aside from taking supplements – and there are lots out there) is fish.

Dark Chocolate

Yes! Another great reason to top up on chocolate! It appears that the flavanols in chocolate helps to boost mental alertness. Although I wouldn’t know why anyone would want to find an alternative food source for flavanols when they can have chocolate, you can also find flavanols in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

Fish

Another obvious one but just in case you weren’t aware of it, DHA (docoshexaenoic acid), which is an omega-3 fatty acid, helps to reduce the risk of age-related memory loss and strokes. DHA has also been touted as the brain food for children. Fatty fish like tuna have higher concentrations of DHA. If your child is like Aristotle, it will be a struggle to feed him fish, so alternative food sources high in DHA will be necessary. You can find them on this chart. Another popular alternative are Cod-Liver supplements – of which Scott’s Emulsion seems to crop up a lot because they have kid-friendly flavours. A quick search revealed that there are actually quite a number of DHA supplements for children available. A lot of milk formulas contain DHA, too, so I suppose it isn’t hard to fulfill this one.

Blue Berries

Also great for fighting off Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases, blue berries also contain other goodies that help to improve memory, focus and concentration. Unfortunately, they didn’t say exactly what. Blue berries aren’t difficult to add into your child’s diet though if they like Boost Juice. Just make your own blue berry boost juice and they’ll be happily slurping up all the good stuff in blue berries. I’ve discovered some time back after experimenting with our Vitamix that bananas and grapes are the key ingredients to making a yummy smoothie.

Beans

Again because of the folate content which we touched on earlier.

Whole Grains

Whole grain foods like whole wheat bread and cereals, food containing wheat germ can help to boost happiness. The key vitamin here is Vitamin B-6 which helps serotonin (your feel good hormone). Vitamin B-6 is also present in fish, beef liver, breakfast cereals, and a variety of other foods found here.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens contain antioxidants that help to improve memory – specifically Vitamin C, beta- and alpha-carotene and Vitamin K. Alright, so leafy greens can be a real toughie to feed to little children so what are the alternatives? Vitamin C is easily accounted for with oranges (or you can check this list) but Vitamin K and beta- and alpha-carotene don’t really have kid-friendly alternative food sources (unless you’ve been blessed with one of those kids that actually like eating vegetables). Your best bet would be a green smoothie (add in your blue berries to the mix and you can kill two birds with one stone). Unfortunately for us, the green smoothie failed the Aristotle test some time back. It’s probably worth trying again, though…

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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