Research: Foods can play role in study habits

Different foods may have an effect on focus, energy and memory.

by Urmila Ramakrishnan





Superfoods have become food for thought.

The foods students eat could help increase memory, energy levels and attention capacity, according to multiple studies and nutritionists.

For long lectures and study sessions, for example, one way to increase alertness âÄî and happiness âÄî is by maintaining a diet high in protein. Such foods lead to higher levels of serotonin, said Kathryn Elenkiwich, a Boynton Health Service nutritionist.

Good sources of protein include legumes, meats, poultry and fish.

Sugar-rich fruits can give quick bursts of energy, said Elenkiwich, a registered dietician. Fruits have fructose, which is broken down and used for energy. They are also rich in antioxidants, which are needed for brain function.

Brian DeClark, a member of the Food and Science Nutrition Club at the University of Minnesota, said he eats apples because they contain a compound called quercetin that is beneficial to memory and may reduce cholesterol.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, however, can be hard to buy on a college studentâÄôs budget, especially with much of the school year stretching across winter.

Frozen produce can be a cheaper alternative to buying fresh fruits and vegetables.

Additionally, frozen produce has a higher nutritional value than fresh produce, Slavin said. This is because, when frozen, produce preserves nutritional value better.

When it comes to cramming, vitamin B may be the studentâÄôs best friend.

According to a study out this month at the University of Oxford, foods rich in vitamin B can decrease the risk of memory loss.

Incorporating vitamin B in a diet with complex carbohydrates like whole grains could help students retain information better because the foods increase blood sugar levels, Elenkiwich said.

Balancing all these benefits and food groups is key, experts say.

“You want to get a lot of variety in your diet,” said Jillian Brenton, a member of the Student Nutrition Advocacy Coalition at the University.