10 Brain Foods for Kids
Eating a high-nutrient protein like eggs (which have nutrients including choline, omega-3s, zinc, and lutein) will help kids concentrate, Beth Saltz, RD, says.
How to Serve It: Fold scrambled eggs into a whole-grain tortilla for a filling breakfast or late-afternoon snack. “The protein-carb combo tides kids over until the next meal with no sugar-induced energy crash,” Saltz says.
2. Greek Yogurt
Fat is important to brain health, says Laura Lagano, RD. A full-fat Greek yogurt (which has more protein that other yogurts) can help keep brain cell membranes flexible, helping them to send and receive information.
Full of folate and vitamins, spinach and kale are part of a healthy diet linked to lower odds of getting dementia later in life. “Kale contains sulforaphane, a molecule that has detoxifying abilities, and diindolylmethane, which helps new brain cells grow,” says Ramsey, coauthor of 50 Shades of Kale.
4. Purple Cauliflower
Low in sugar, high in fiber, and full of folate and B6 that help regulate mood, memory, and attention, purple cauliflower also delivers inflammation-fighting nutrients called anthocyanins.
How to Serve It: Roast and puree cauliflower to make a nutritious dipping sauce for carrots and other veggies such as peppers, celery, and radishes.
Naturally fatty fish are a good source of vitamin D and omega-3s, which protect the brain against cognitive decline and memory loss. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are all rich in omega-3s.
“The more omega-3s we can get to the brain, the better it will function and the better kids will be able to focus,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It.
6. “Clean” Meat
“Animal fat is where pesticides and antibiotics are stored. A high toxic load can contribute to brain fog,” Lagano says. For better behavior and focus, choose meats (and other foods) that are free of artificial ingredients, dyes, flavoring, preservatives, and sweeteners.
7. Nuts and Seeds
Packed with protein, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals, nuts and seeds may boost mood and keep your nervous system happy.
Protein- and fiber-rich oatmeal helps keep heart and brain arteries clear. In one study, kids who ate sweetened oatmeal did better on memory-related academic tasks than those who ate a sugary cereal.
9. Apples and Plums
Kids often crave sweets, especially when they’re feeling sluggish. Apples and plums are lunchbox-friendly and contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may fight cognitive decline, according to lab studies.
“The curcumin in turmeric can actually make the brain grow,” Ramsey says. He says studies show curcumin fights inflammation and blocks Alzheimer’s plaque formation.