9 Brain-Boosting Foods for Back-to-School Meals

9 Brain-Boosting Foods for Back-to-School Meals
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9 Brain-Boosting Foods for Back-to-School Meals

Cook with these nine ingredients for improved brain function.


Avocados are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps protect the brain from free radical damage. Use guacamole as a topping for burgers or sandwiches and try adding cubes of avocado to fruit salad in your kid’s lunch box.

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Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, which is found in the meat of the coconut, is being studied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Try using coconut oil in your baking or add fresh coconut meat to breakfast smoothies.

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Dark berries are good for the brain and improve memory, learning and cognitive function. Add fresh blueberries to cereal in the morning or cook them down in a pan to make a sweet glaze for grilled chicken.

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Broccoli is full of nutrients and may help remove heavy metals from the body — metals that can damage your brain. Add broccoli to stir-fry dishes or try roasting it in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil for an easy and delicious brain-boosting meal.

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Several nuts are also a good source of free-radical-fighting Vitamin E. Pulse nuts in a food processor with basil, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil to make pesto for pasta, or grind the nuts even more until they form a rich, creamy nut butter.

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Quinoa is a healthy way to get your brain the glucose it needs to perform its best. Use quinoa in place of rice when you’re cooking dinner or try it with milk and honey at breakfast time instead of oatmeal.

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Red Cabbage

This crunchy vegetable is rich in polyphenol, an antioxidant that’s good for your brain. Shred cabbage and use it instead of lettuce on your next taco dinner night (added bonus: it's also more authentically Mexican).

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Both memory and cognitive function have been shown to benefit from rosemary. One of the easiest ways to use rosemary is to chop it and sprinkle it over potatoes when you’re roasting them in the oven. Rosemary is also delicious with caramel; try adding a pinch (ground) to sundae sauce at dessert time.

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Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in nutrients and contain tryptophan, a mood-boosting compound that also combats depression. Try sprinkling sunflower seeds on yogurt parfaits for extra flavor and nutrition.

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When asked how they boost memory and promote healthy brain function, most people will tell you that they get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, listen to certain types of music, or play games designed to give their brain a workout. Few people will tell you that they consider diet a key factor in brain health. But plenty of research shows that the foods we eat can have a role in sharpening our memories, increasing our concentration, preventing mental decline and improving overall cognitive functioning. So, which foods are best for brain health then, and why? And, how to you incorporate them into healthy meals you make for school-age children?

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Many plant-based foods are good sources of nutrition for the body in general, including the brain. Plant-based foods have a wide variety of vitamins and antioxidants to prevent certain types of damage within the body. When you're cooking back-to-school meals, be sure to incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (in a wide variety of colors), whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. These foods are natural sources of the nutrients necessary for a healthy brain.

If you're not familiar with a particular food, or if you have a picky eater in your family, seek out new and creative ways to use healthy ingredients; vegetables can be more appealing when paired with fruit (think fruit salsa) and salty items like seeds and nuts can enhance both sweet and savory flavors in dishes. Try adding salty seeds or nuts to melted dark chocolate or creamy yogurt parfaits.

Looking for more healthy back-to-school ideas? We've got nine foods that are proven to promote brain function and a few creative ideas for incorporating them into your cooking routine.

Check out the slideshow above for the best brain-boosting back-to-school meals.

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