Exam period is starting and before digging in the bag of sweets, let’s try to make smart decisions.
Best news this week: Eating chocolate improves learning ability (and mood)! However, I’m not talking about Cadbury’s dairy milk I’m afraid. It’s the flavonoids in chocolate that are responsible for improving learning and memory. The darker the chocolate, the better. Dark fruits also contain flavonoids, so go for it!
Another memory superfood is…. Omega-3 fatty acids!
Last week I attended a lecture about diet and mental health. The first thing I learned was that Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be produced by our body so it is essential we get them from our diet. Why? Because we need them for brain cell formation. According to Dr. Sandrine Thuret (King’s College, London), studies have demonstrated that Omega-3s can be associated with prevention of cognitive decline and that fish eaters experience up to 4 times less cognitive decline than non fish eaters.
Ok, so we need to eat oily fish or take fish oil supplements. If you want to buy supplements, you should pay attention to this: There are 3 types of Omega-3s: ALA, EPA and DHA. When buying fish oil supplements, you should look for EPA and DHA, simply because ALA cannot be precessed by our body.
EPA and DHA, through the building of new brain cells, increase our learning ability. They also help us cope with stress! When under stress, we produce cortisol, which can cause cell death. But cells that were fed EPA and DHA can resist to cortisol better than normal cells.
All great news then. Now what do we need to eat to get our daily fix of EPA and DHA and how much of it?
Recommendations for supplements vary between 300mg to 800mg per day. But to give you an idea of what these quantities represent, here is a list of foods in which there is 1g of EPA/DHA:
- 85g salmon (or mackerel)
- 255g tuna
- 10 eggs
- 3kgs beef (good luck with that)
In conclusion, eating a portion of oily fish a day during revision time should help us learn and memorize, even under stressful conditions.
Above all, remember to keep eating a varied and nutritious diet for optimum health :-)
And G O O D L U C K ! ! !