The best foods for college students improve memory, heighten thinking skills, boost the immune system, and keep students fit, focused, and fabulous.
“Mother Nature’s foods and natural medicines are more powerful than any drug in the prevention of brain diseases,” says naturopath Michelle Schoffro Cook.
Most of these foods are proven to directly increase brain and immune health – which is exactly what college students need. If you tend to catch colds and flus easily (which many college students do, as colds and flu are related to your immune health), make sure you have a box of Cold-fX Capsules handy. They’ll help boost your immune system – especially if you feel a cold coming on.
And here are a few of the best foods for smart college students who want to be smarter…
Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts – the perfect snack for students
These nuts are a healthy source of omega-3’s, which prevent the decline of cognitive and motor function. Research shows that the combination of omega-3’s and uridine (found in sugar beets or molasses) improves your brain health by increasing brain resiliency and improving cell functioning.
This dynamic duo also balances the unstable neurotransmitters that can cause depression and other mood disorders. A handful of walnuts a couple times a day — between classes or while studying for exams — is an easy way to add nutrition to your diet.
Eggs – particularly the yolks
The choline in egg yolks improves memory, learning, and cognition (crucial aspects of college success!). New research shows that choline can improve damaged brain cells caused by alcohol exposure in the womb.
“Early dietary interventions may reduce the severity of some fetal alcohol effects, even when administered after birth,” say San Diego State University scientists. Choline boosts cell production, which increases your memory and cognitive function. Other foods for brain and immune health are skim milk, breast milk, nuts, and meats because they’re also high in choline.
Avoid fried eggs! I boil or poach my eggs, and usually eat two every week.
Red cabbage – grated over salads
The anthocyanins in red cabbage not only improve brain function, they also promote cardiac health and provide cancer protection. Other healthy cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
These veggies are the best foods for college students because they also guard against cancer, increase the body’s detoxification enzymes, and help protect against stroke.
Salmon, sardines, trout – get those omega-3’s for your brain!
“The fats in dairy, meats and oils are important for the production of acetylcholine, which is crucial for memory formation and general neural integrity,” says Dr Pierce Howard in The Owner’s Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research.
Fish and seafood are a great way to increase your healthy fat intake. Salmon, char, haddock, shrimp, rainbow trout and sardines are foods that fight disease because of their omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils.
If you don’t like fish, pop a omege-3 supplement with natural fish oils every day.
Tomatoes – cooked, not raw (though raw is good, too)
The lycopene in cooked tomatoes (ketchup, spaghetti sauce, etc) is a powerful antioxidant that fights disease by neutralizing free radicals, the molecules that which damage or destroy brain cells. Tomatoes also stimulate the production of carnitine, which increases the body’s fat-burning capacity. The last thing college students want is to gain weight!
“Fresh ginger is one of the best natural anti-inflammatory foods,” writes Cook in The Brain Wash. Ginger not only blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds that lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, it also fights acidity in the body. Ginger is a flavorful food that boosts your immune system.
Other spices that have fantastic antioxidants are ground cloves, cinnamon, dried oregano and turmeric are helpful in protecting the brain.
Avocados (yum – guacamole! but watch the fatty, beefy, cheesy nachos)
“Magnesium is involved with countless biological and chemical functions in the body, particularly in stabilizing brain wave patterns and in increasing blood flow to the brain,” says Cook. Avocados and artichokes are high in magnesium, and so are whole grains and nuts. And, the healthy fat in avocados can help you feel satisfied and full for a long time — which is especially helpful for students who don’t want to gain weight at college.
Beans, legumes and soy
Black beans, soybeans, split peas and tofu are among the “bean and pea” family of foods that boost the immune system and fight disease. Legumes and soy foods are low in fat and high in protein, and help ward off heart disease and prostrate cancer. Beans contain high amounts of thiamine, a B-vitamin key in building healthy brain cells and improving cognitive function.
Beans are also the best foods for college students because they’re inexpensive and easy to prepare. My favorite way to eat beans is a healthy version of refried beans, as a dip. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, here are some easy vegetarian meals that include beans.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries
Blueberries and strawberries are particularly high in polyphenols, which are a category of flavonoids. Research shows that these berries can reverse some effects of age-related brain decline; other scientists found that flavonoids work with vitamin C to prevent that vitamin’s breakdown and boost the fight against free radicals. Berries also guard against macular degeneration, various cancers, and brain cell loss.
Rosemary – one of the best seasonings for healthy college students
This is one of the best foods for college students because it helps boost your immune system by counteracting the ill effects of aging and providing protection from brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Rosemary also contains carnosic acid, which protects you from possible stroke and neurodegeneration, and antioxidants, which fight free radicals (the toxic byproducts of natural cell metabolism).
If you can’t afford to eat these healthy foods, read 10 Highest Paying Jobs for College Students.
What do you think of these best foods for college students? Comments welcome below…