Top 10 Healthy Foods for Students – Food for Brain and Immune Health

These healthy foods for students range from walnuts to rosemary. These foods increase memory and cognition, improve overall physical health, boost your immune system, keep you lean and sexy, make you feel healthier and happier…all of which will help you achieve your college goals!

Before the tips, a quip:

“Mother Nature’s foods and natural medicines are more powerful than any drug in the prevention of brain diseases,” says Michelle Schoffro Cook, naturopath and author of The Brain Wash: A Powerful, All-Natural Program to Protect Your Brain Against Alzheimer’s, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases.

If you struggle to eat healthy — especially during stressful college exams or other activities — read Mindful Eating 101: A Guide to Healthy Eating in College and Beyond.

To decrease stress, avoid gaining the dreaded “freshman 15”, and succeed at college, you need to be conscious about your foods and eating habits.

And, here are ten foods for your brain and immune system…

Top 10 Healthy Foods for Students – Food for Brain and Immune Health

1. Walnuts 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 — can help you achieve your college goals.

2. Egg yolks. The choline in 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.

3. Red cabbage. 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 are among the top ten healthy foods for college students because they also guard against cancer development, increase your body’s detoxification enzymes, and help protect against stroke.

4. Healthy fats, such as omega-3’s. “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.

5. Tomatoes. The lycopene in tomatos 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!

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6. Ginger. “Fresh ginger is one of the best natural anti-inflammatory foods,” writes Cook in The Brain Wash: A Powerful, All-Natural Program to Protect Your Brain Against Alzheimer’s, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases. This herb 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. Also — the antioxidants in ground cloves, cinnamon, dried oregano and turmeric are helpful in protecting the brain.

7. Avocados. “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.

8. 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. This is one of the most versatile “top ten healthy foods for college students” because beans can be used in so many different recipes!

9. Berries, berries, berries, and more berries. 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.

10. Rosemary. This is one of the top ten healthy 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).

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Ready to achieve your college goals this year? Read 5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Go to College – From Bored to Inspired!

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2 thoughts on “Top 10 Healthy Foods for Students – Food for Brain and Immune Health

  • Laurie Post author

    Thanks for your comment, Minerva! I agree – most college students neglect to think about feeding their brains when they’re in school. Food may be the most important way to stay healthy and smart for school…and sleep is also hugely important.

  • Minerva Thompson

    Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for this post on healthy foods for college students. Honestly, this is the last thing we think about when we’re studying for exams and doing all our extracurricular stuff. But it’s the most important, because what we eat directly affects our brain and energy levels. And those things affect our grades at school.