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Eating Tips to Improve Your Memory and Focus

Eating Tips to Improve Your Memory and Focus

Melanie Jatsek for College Candy

April 06, 2011

Protein:

Dopamine is the chemical in your body responsible for revving up your brain, making you alert, energetic and focused. It’s triggered by protein-rich foods like dairy products, eggs, meats, seafood and soy. Be careful because a “brain building” protein can turn into a “brain draining” one depending on how it’s prepared- cold cuts, fried or breaded meats and those covered in cream sauces will put you in a slump.

Hint: The American Dietetic Association and The American Heart Association recommend eating 2 servings of lower mercury fish per week. Salmon and canned or pouched light tuna are two good sources of brain building omega 3 fatty acids that are lower in mercury. Each serving is 3.5 ounces cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish. Fish with higher mercury levels should be avoided: Shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Fat:

You have a fat head. Really! Your brain is made up of two-thirds fat, so eating enough of it is important. “Brain building” fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats promote healthy blood blow to your brain and include olives, olive oil, nuts and seed, peanut oil, canola oil and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats, specifically omega 3 fatty acids, are the main structural component of your brain. Eat them and you’ll have a much higher functioning noggin! They include herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, chia seeds, canola oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, soybean oil and walnuts. Because they are calorie-rich, remember to keep portion sizes small when it comes to oils, nuts and seeds.

Your brain hates trans fats (trans fatty acids), otherwise known as “brain draining” fats. That’s because it’s not a natural fat, so it stands to reason that it doesn’t act naturally in your body. Trans fats make their way into your brain cells, line your brain cell membranes and disrupt communication, resulting in diminished mental performance. In other words, your brain malfunctions in the presence of trans fat. Possible trans fat-containing foods include: cookies, crackers, doughnuts, foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils (fried chicken, French fries), frostings, margarine, pastry, potato chips, shortening, snack cakes and tortillas.

To check if a food is made with trans fat, look at the Nutrition Facts Label for grams of trans fat and also under the ingredient list for the words “partially hydrogenated oils.”

Fat Cont. →



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