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Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: Strawberries

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.

Brain Food for Exams - Strawberry

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. 

Let’s look at the glycemic index scales and how each food is rated:Glycemic Index Chart with Explanation

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:

Glycemic Load Chart with Explanation


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):

Exam Brain Food - Strawberries - Sugars, Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load


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.

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Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: Blueberries

Why Blueberries for Exam Time?

Blueberries or Vaccinium cyanococcus are loaded with something called flavonoids.  Flavonoids have strong antioxidant properties and are responsible for cell signaling pathways. That means they control the cell communications.

Like strawberries, blueberries have a similar if not more beneficial effect in reducing or preventing mental decline with age. Brain Food for Exams: Blueberries

Every brain cell is critical to memory and optimal functioning. Blueberries have the ability to eradicate free radicals and protect your brain cells from unwanted damage.

Not only do blueberries up your brain power, they have the ability to increase motor skillstoo.  These similarities with strawberries suggest that perhaps the polyphenols are responsible for stepping your brain up. 

Blueberries are so powerful that recent studies have evaluated the enhancement of rat brains after neural transplants.  The findings were shocking…

The research showed that the rats’ whose diet was supplemented with blueberries experienced tremendously more growth in the hippocampal grafts than the rats that were fed a control diet.

See more research about blueberries at 31 Super Foods for Memory

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Blueberries

Let’s take a look at the sugars, glycemic index and glycemic load of blueberries (note: the numbers are an approximation or average from several sources found in the references section):Best Exam Foods - Blueberries - Sugars, Glycemic Index & Glycemic LoadClick here to see the next best Exam Food for Memory.

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Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: Spinach

3. The Next Best Brain Food for the Big Exam is: Spinach

If you have to pick one go to brain food, spinach should be it. It has a ridiculous amount of nutrients and other vitamins

Let’s take a look at some of the Nutrients in Spinach:

Nutrients in Spinach - calcium, choline, copper, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, omega-3 fats, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, zinc, l-tyrosine, potassium, selenium

Let’s look at some of the nutrients in spinach to see why it’s so beneficial for improving your ability to focus and for overall cognitive functioning.

First, let’s look at Manganese. Manganese is also found in two of the other brain foods we talked about—blueberries and strawberries. That could be because Manganese is one of the minerals responsible for keeping your brain operational and functioning normally. 

It has various enzymes that assist in forming connective tissues. Perhaps manganese is responsible for the growth of the hippocampal grafts in the brains of the rats that were examined in the blueberry studies.  It’s difficult to pinpoint the one nutrient that directly caused these results, but the examination of the rats brains showed significant development and worked as a brain booster for the rats.

Perhaps just as important, if not more, for brain function is the presence of Vitamin B and Folate. Spinach is loaded with both. 

Folate plays a role in decreasing levels of amino acids that can impair brain functioning. Specifically, it protects the body against homocysteine, an amino acid that blocks up and damages your blood vessels.

Researchers also suggest that Vitamin B keeps your brain young.  Many of these scholars are proponents of the philosophy that Vitamin B has the ability to aid or fortify the brain stem to preserve your brain and boost overall functioning.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Spinach

Let’s take a look at the sugars, glycemic index and glycemic load of Spinach (note: the numbers are an approximation or average from several sources found in the references section):Brain Food for Exam - Spinach - Sugars, Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load

Glycemic Index Chart with Explanation
Glycemic Load Chart with Explanation

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