The brain foods busy children need to fuel their school day
At this time of year there is plenty of talk of what healthy foods should be packed in school lunchboxes. Less often do we talk about the superfoods specifically linked to optimal cognitive function that will help keep busy brains at their best. So as we move into the start of another busy school year, here are my top 5 brain foods to help school aged kids learn, think and perform at their best every single day.
There are few foods that tick the brain power box to the extent that salmon does. Not only is salmon one of the richest natural sources of omega 3 fats which are intricately involved in brain functioning, but in addition the range of B group vitamins including Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 are individually associated with a range of key physiological functions including energy production, language development and memory. Ideally growing children need to include a rich source of omega 3 fats in their diets 2-3 times each week.
Not only are eggs a source of high biological value protein and a great filling breakfast option, they are also a good source of the vital nutrient choline. Choline has been shown to have a number of vital functions including optimal cell membrane function and neurotransmission which is linked to enhanced brain function. Serve them hard boiled, mashed on sandwiches or made into mini muffins or frittatas as handy snacks on the go.
Often forgotten as superfoods for children because of their link to allergies, for families not impacted by allergies the reality is that nuts are nutrient dense foods that have much to offer children and adults alike. With essential fats, including the plant sources of omega 3 fats, protein, fibre and micronutrients including zinc, adding a serve of nuts or 100% spreads* in your child’s diet when they can enjoy nuts safely at home is a no brainer.
With exceptionally high levels of antioxidants, a single serve of blueberries a day adds Vitamin C and fibre to the diet for minimal sugars and calories. Of particular interest is that of all the berries, blueberries have been specifically linked to improved cognitive function. To keep them fresh in lunchboxes, try freezing them for a yummy snack.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Not the easiest food to encourage small children to eat but whether it is broccoli, kale, spinach or bok choy you cannot go wrong when it comes to including leafy greens regularly in the diet of growing children. Rich in antioxidants it appears that the regular consumption of leafy greens helps to protect the brain against damage over time. Try blending leafy greens into smoothies if you have difficulty getting them into the diet of your little ones regularly.
*Susie is currently in partnership with Tassal Salmon and Mayver’s, however the content above is based on Susie’s professional opinion of these products and is not sponsored.