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A Desi List of Brain Foods that Boost Your GATE/ESE Preparation

Here is a list of brain foods you can eat regularly to keep your brain super active and healthy. These are also available at our local shops at affordable prices. So this list does not have salmon and blueberries in it, since they are pretty rare and costly in India. This is exclusively a desi list!

Chithrakala Babu

Many of you are preparing for GATE 2022, ESE or other competitive exams that are likely to decide your future. When the exam gets into your head, you hardly pay any attention to the quality of food that you eat. Many students eat crisps, energy drinks, lots of chocolate, and other snacks to keep themselves active during study time. It is to be noted that a poor diet may result in fatigue and lethargy. Just like every part of our body, the brain needs energy and optimum health for proper functioning. The healthy functioning of the brain demands nutritious food intake. Our little buddy prefers some types of food for their special components that boost him up instantly. Here is a list of such foods you can eat regularly to keep your brain super active and healthy. These are also available at our local shops at affordable prices. So this list does not have salmon and blueberries in it, since they are pretty rare and costly in India. This is a desi list, enjoy!

  1. Whole grains

Whole grains are a fantastic source of B vitamins that will nourish your brain. Whole grains slowly release glucose into the bloodstream, keeping you energetic and healthy the whole day. It is also observed that a whole grain diet results in better cognition. Brown rice, oatmeal, barley, quinoa, whole wheat, cornmeal - all of them are fantastic choices. Ensure at least one serving of any whole grain each day.

2. Fatty Fish and Protein foods

Oily fishes are rich with omega-3-fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help in the growth and protection of brain cells. They also increase blood circulation in the brain. Make sure that you eat enough seafood like mackerel, oysters, shrimp, and sardines. Vegetarians can replace fish with soybean, flaxseed, kidney bean, etc., which also have a similar nutrient index. There are plenty of omega-3 supplements available in the market. However, you must consult a nutritionist/doctor before you take any kind of supplement for understanding your physical conditions and nutrient requirements.

3. Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts contain healthy fat, antioxidants, and vitamin E – all of which are vital for brain health. Vitamin E improves cognition and brain health. You can have moderate amounts of seeds and nuts on a daily basis. Owing to the abundant presence of magnesium, zinc, copper and iron, pumpkin seeds are unbelievably good for brain and mental health. So, don’t throw away the pumpkin seeds from your kitchen. Wash them, sun-dry and snack on! Peanuts, though not really a nut, contain unsaturated fats, protein, and other vital nutrients that protect brain. You can eat these nuts and seeds directly or add them to your dishes. How about having a peanut and banana smoothie today?

4. Chocolates

Yes! Chocolates. According to studies, the flavonoids present in cocoa promote brain health and may stimulate the blood flow in the brain. Besides, we know that chocolate is an instant stress buster. So taking an adequate amount of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, will have positive effects on your brain health. On the flip side, eating large amounts of it may result in many health issues such as dizziness, insomnia, tooth cavities, and stomach upset.

5. Tomatoes

Fresh or cooked, tomatoes are always a healthy choice. They are ample sources of lycopene and beta carotene – two super carotenoids known to have brain-protecting power. As a handy and economical ingredient, tomatoes should be incorporated into your daily diet. Cut up some tomatoes along with some fresh vegetables, a little olive oil (optional), a pinch of salt and pepper, mix everything – your brain-friendly snack is ready.

6. Egg

Who doesn’t like eggs? We don’t need much introduction to this staple food eaten all over the world. It is advisable to consume eggs on a daily basis but in moderate quantities. Eggs contain Choline, which is known to have memory-boosting properties and several B-vitamins associated with brain health. Moreover, egg is considered a superfood for its positive impact on overall health. Boiled eggs, omelet, egg bhurji, French toast – how do you like to have them?

7. Greens

Many of us may not like leafy vegetables. But let’s not ignore the fact that they are no.1 sources of vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, beta carotene, and folate, the nutrients our brain likes so dearly. These nutrients boost brain health and cognition. We have copious varieties of greens available in our country. Palak, Malabar spinach, methi, amaranth, moringa leaves are some of the common greens we use. It is best if you include one leafy vegetable to your daily meal. How about adding some green into your rice, soup, upma, or chapati?! Both your brain and tummy will be happy.

8. Turmeric

A common spice in Indian food, turmeric is an excellent food with excellent health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There are also studies showing that turmeric can improve brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  Curcumin in turmeric boosts the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This brain hormone helps in the growth and repair of brain stem cells. Apart from our usual Indian curries with turmeric, the recipes such as turmeric milk, turmeric tea, can give a tasty twist to your haldi consumption. You can also try adding a pinch of turmeric into smoothies, chutneys and desserts if you like.

You can be at your best if you give your body what it needs to stay healthy - good food and exercise. Don’t let your health suffer during the time of exam preparation. Make sure you eat nutritious food that nourishes your brain for maximum learning productivity. Remember, “a healthy body has a healthy mind”.