What your child eats can influence their brain development and function. Just like the rest of the body, growing brains need nutrients, which can be found in a well-rounded diet. Memory, attention span and the ability to learn, all benefit from good food choices. Although when it comes to brain foods, some are better than others including:
- Fatty fish - Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and anchovies are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are vital for healthy growing minds. A significant portion of the brain is made up of omega 3, mostly DHA, which is needed to support the development of the brain in kids and help maintain optimal brain function.
- Walnuts - With their wrinkly appearance, these nuts actually resemble the human brain and are considered to be brain food. Walnuts are a source of important brain nutrients including omega 3 and vitamin E.
- Eggs - Eggs are a source of choline, a B vitamin which converts to an important brain chemical that's involved in memory and many other functions.1 Enjoy them poached, scrambled, boiled or sunny side up.
- Whole grains - Like every other organ in the body, the brain cannot work without energy. Glucose is the brain's main source of fuel so it's important to provide a steady supply from whole grains such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, oats, rye and spelt.
- Blueberries - Blueberries have antioxidant properties and may contribute to brain function, particularly the memory systems.2 Add a handful of blueberries to your child's breakfast or offer as a delicious brain-boosting snack.
- Avocado - Avocadoes contain important monounsaturated fatty acids which act as a coating around nerve cells of the brain and helps with the transfer of information between nerve cells.3
- Spinach - Spinach is a rich source of folate, a B vitamin that's important for the brain in many ways. Folate helps maintain healthy brain circulation, helps to form brain chemicals that are important for thinking and learning, and helps detoxify substances in the body to keep the brain healthy.3 Serve up a healthy spinach salad at dinner time or disguise in lasagna, rissoles or a feta tart for fussy eaters.
- Purple grapes - Munching on purple grapes may be good for growing brains. Purple grapes contain resveratrol, which can help keep blood vessels healthy and support the brain's supply of oxygen and nutrients.3
- Curry - Turmeric, the spice in curry, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help protect brain cells from damage. Try a chicken curry with turmeric, ginger, spinach and brown rice.
- Red meat - Red meat like beef, lamb and pork is a good source of iron, a nutrient that helps with the delivery of oxygen around the body and helps maintain healthy brain function. Kids need high amounts of iron to support their rapid growth and development but many infants and preschool aged children are not getting enough. Small amounts of iron can also be found in lentils, tofu, kidney beans, prunes, cashews and tuna.4