Eight Superfoods To SuperCharge Your Kid’s Brain (and yours too!)
The world is filled with so many delicious, nutritious natural foods. Some of them are particularly well suited for our brains, making them also the perfect foods to start off your kids’ day and send with them to school for lunch. You want to supercharge your child’s brain? Here are a few of the best and most portable for those school lunch boxes:
Fruits and Vegetables Made Easy: The Green Smoothie! Loaded with the best, most nutrient dense foods on the planet, a green smoothie for breakfast and even one sent off in a bottle for lunch will pack the most bang for your super brain buck. Bananas provide quick energy to the brain, and they are abundant in this recipe: blend a big handful of greens (spinach or kale) with water, two or three ripe bananas, and a cup of mixed fruit – and be sure to include some blueberries.
Berries. Antioxidant-rich blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries protect the heart. This we know. They also protect the brain from stress, increase learning capacity and strengthen motor skills. And plus, they are delicious! This is an easy food to get kids to love. One cup of any of these organic berries a day in any form will do the trick. You can even mix them together for variety.
Whole grains. Whole grains are a tricky one, because so much of what’s packaged and sold as “whole grain” or “all natural” really isn’t at all. You have to be a nutrition label detective and make sure the first ingredient says “100 whole grain,” or else you might end up with a refined product stripped of its nutrients. Whole grain oatmeal is a great breakfast, and of course whole grain breads are what you should use for sandwiches. You can even take the vitamin and protein power of your bread to another level with sprouted grain breads. The Ezekiel brands are becoming more and more popular in the grocery store frozen food aisles. If you don’t see it stocked there, ask the store manager.
Fish. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are important for the brain, but sending fish to school can be a challenge… unless it’s in the form of a tuna salad sandwich, and you prepare the tuna without all the mayo. Try using Greek yogurt or mashed avocado instead. And don’t forget the whole grain bread!
Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, which enhance cognitive abilities. Add an ounce a day of any kind of nuts or nut butters such as peanut or almond butter. Raw is better than roasted, which means they will naturally come without salt and prevent an overload of sodium. An excellent “brain food” can be the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich… as long as you use a truly whole grain bread, natural sugar free peanut butter, and a blueberry jam that hasn’t been sweetened with anything other than fruit juice! Delicious!
Avocados. Avocados are another good brain food, but since they are high in calories, you’ll want to stick to no more than half an avocado a day. Use it to make an all-natural guacamole dip, send it off with carrots, cucumbers or some all natural tortilla chips, and not only will your child have a healthy snack, but an enviable one!
Beans. Whoever says that eating healthy costs too much has yet to be introduced to beans. Beans are filling, healthy, and help stabilize blood sugar levels. Beans offer a consistent stream of energy to the body, vital for cognitive functioning. You can easily put a nice portion of black beans and brown rice or quinoa together in a cold salad, combine them with lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes, and wrap in a whole grain tortilla. Maybe even slather some of your homemade guacamole on there. Start feeding them these foods, and your kids will be the smartest ones in the school! (Ah, I know they are already! )
Dark chocolate. YES! Okay, maybe you’ll want to save the chocolate for yourself. But send your kids with up to an ounce for a treat in the lunch box, too. Dark chocolate, at least 70%, is a triple threat: it’s packed with antioxidants and natural brain stimulants, and it stimulates the production of endorphins, which improve mood. So if a math test is coming up after lunch, it can certainly help to brighten your youngster’s attitude about it!
It’s not on the list, but remember that a lifestyle including fresh air, exercise, and a good night’s sleep is critical to proper brain function… not just for your child, but for you, too.
By Helene Geigelman