Food for Thought: 6 Brain Boosters That Improve Academic Performance

Picture of two happy, calm, cooperative kids.

Eating healthy brain foods leads to increased comprehension, higher grades & positive self image.

Asking your child’s brain to function without proper nutrition is like asking an airplane to fly with gasoline as fuel. Like the airplane, the brain is an advanced machine that requires specialized fuel. A growing, maturing brain requires proper nutrients to reach peak performance.

You can help enhance your child’s academic performance by providing foods that boost brain function. Brain foods help increase concentration, boost memory, support sensorimotor skill development, and help kids stay calm when stressed. Starting the day off with a power-packed breakfast is the perfect place to begin. Research shows that when children eat a healthy breakfast they are more successful in school. They are more alert, become engaged and participate in class discussions, stay focused and solve more complex academic problems. These all lead to increased comprehension, higher grades and positive self image.

This list below is filled with foods that will help your child’s brain work well. These foods provide healthy fats, increase oxygen in the blood, increase blood supply to the brain, stimulate neurotransmitters, prevent cell damage and maintain steady glucose levels. All of them do wonders for mental and neurological health.


Even mild dehydration effects brain function. The brain is made mostly ( 75%) of water. Cognitive ability depends on proper hydration. Proper hydration cannot be achieved with sodas and other sugary drinks. Plenty of water is needed to keep the brain hydrated. What percentage of your child’s liquid intake is water? When students drink water throughout the day and during exams they demonstrate their best thinking and creativity. Encourage your child to keep a water bottle on his or her desk. When people see water, they tend to drink more. Drinking water regularly keeps students minds sharp and clear.

Whole Grains:

Choose breads and cereals that contain whole grains. Brown rice, whole wheat, barley, oats and other whole grains support brain function. Whole grains are healthy brain foods. They contain vitamins that increase blood circulation and boost memory. They also release glucose at a steady rate so that the pancreas doesn’t have to work overtime to provide excess insulin. This keeps the brain supplied with a steady flow of glucose and avoids the peaks and valleys of sugar rushes caused by refined foods. This steady stream of glucose improves alertness, concentration, and memory. B vitamins in whole grains support the nervous system.


Berries are one of the most delicious brain foods. Blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the brain from neurological damage. They also improve communication between brain cells. These berries protect the brain and promote strong cognitive function.


Strive for your child to eat five to eight servings of vegetables every day. Vegetables are high in the antioxidant protective vitamins C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. They protect brain cells from damage. Lean towards dark green leafy greens like spinach and collard greens, carrots, kale, broccoli, and brightly colored vegetables like red cabbage, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and tomatoes. These vegetables are important brain foods. They are especially packed with fuel for healthy brain function.


The complex carbohydrates and protein in beans help keep brain function level throughout the day. This makes them a powerful brain food. Beans also contain omega 3 fatty acids that support brain growth and function. Kidney and pinto beans are especially high in omega 3 fatty acids.

Nuts & Seeds:

A variety of nuts and seeds help to enhance brain function. Walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flax seeds all contain essential fatty acids. Sunflower seeds also contain an important amino acid that helps to keep the brain alert. Nuts and seeds increase clarity and enhance mood creating an attitude that is ready to learn.  Nuts and seeds travel well and make a great quick snack between classes.

Together these foods support healthy brain function. Help your child fill up on healthy brain foods. The more healthy foods they eat, the less room and interest they’ll have for unhealthy foods. The quality of foods you serve your child significantly affect their behavior and performance in school. These foods not only provide your child with the nutrients needed for optimal brain function, they will also help with development and general good health.