1. The first memory boosting food for your exam is: Strawberries
Most people love strawberries. They’re sweet, juicy, and delicious.
Most people don’t know, however, that strawberries are excellent for improving your memory and overall brain functioning.
Numerous studies have shown the ability of strawberries to prevent or even reverse the mental decline that occurs with aging.
Many of the studies that support this concept were conducted on rats. The rats were put through various mental and motor skill tests and given a diet of only strawberries. The studies showed that the rats had distinguishable gains in both areas.
Further and more specifically, the overwhelming majority of studies found that including strawberries into the rats’ diets showed significant improvement in memory (both short-term and long-term) and improved their concentration. This could be explained because many people would classify the following abilities: motor skills, memory, and concentration as distant (or close) cousins.
See more research about strawberries at 31 Super Foods for Memory. (open new window)
Some doctors and dietitians point to the high vitamin C content. Others say that it’s a synergistic effect of the various antioxidants in the strawberries.
It could also come from the manganese and fiber in them. Manganese is a trace mineral that is essential to the normal functioning of your brain and nerves.
The fiber assists in regulating blood sugar levels. Fiber also assists in reducing excess cholesterol, which is extremely beneficial for your brain because the neuronal membrane is composed of lipids. If you have too much dietary cholesterol, the membrane can harden (or lose flexibility) and adversely affect the neurons’ ability to communicate.
It’s difficult to tell why strawberries improve your memory and concentration, but the bottom line is that the studies speak for themselves…strawberries are a super brain food.
After hearing about the brain benefits, your first inclination is to eat as many strawberries as possible.
Why not? It increases brain power.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Strawberries
But, you should always consider the amount of sugars, the glycemic index and glycemic load of the foods you eat.
We know what sugars are…that’s common sense, but not everyone knows about the glycemic index. The glycemic index is basically a rating scale that reflects the effect that foods have on our blood sugar levels and insulin.
Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) cause quick spikes in blood sugar and insulin and promote fat storage whereas low GI foods allow you to maintain a more stable blood sugar level and do not stimulate the mechanisms that cause your body to store fat.
Why do we care about the sugar levels in our food?
Sugar can greatly hinder your memory and overall brain functioning, so we have to be sure that the foods we’re eating don’t clog up our brains or arteries with nasty sugars.
Many scholars argue as to whether the glycemic index is an accurate way to assess food’s effect on blood sugar. The argument essentially points to the portions used in arriving at the glycemic index number.
The criticism is that these foods are not an accurate reflection of what a person would eat in a regular sitting.
Researchers at Harvard accounted for these criticisms and created the Glycemic load.
The Glycemic load is a general evaluation of foods and their effect on a person’s blood glucose level. One unit on the glycemic load scale is supposed to be equivalent to one gram of glucose in the person’s blood.
Here is a chart that explains the glycemic load ranking system:
Let’s look at the sugars, glycemic index and glycemic load in a cup of strawberries (note: the numbers are an approximation or average from several sources found in the references section):
As you can see, strawberries are low in glycemic index and glycemic load. Thus, they do not pose a substantial threat of drastically increasing blood glucose levels.
Keep this in mind, but also remember that overindulgence in anything can pose its risks.