10 Healthy Foods That Boost Brain DevelopmentJanuary 17, 2023
January is here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re more than ready to get all of the junk food out of the house that accumulated over the holiday season. There’s something about turning that calendar page that tends to renew the determination to not only eat healthily but live healthily. Of course, a large part of living a healthy lifestyle does revolve around the foods that we eat to fuel our bodies.
Kids (and let’s be honest…adults too) love sugar, but sugar doesn’t love us back. Sure, it may cause an initial energy boost, but that quickly crashes and leaves a mess in its wake. In the case of our children, besides the crankiness that replaces the hyperactivity as they come down from the sugar high, sugar is also shown to hinder brain development and reduce cognitive function. Yikes. So what can we do?
Foods for Learning
We want to protect our children and do all that we can to ensure they are healthy and thriving. While they may not be as excited about the process and replacement of foods they love, brain foods can still be tasty! Here are 10 healthy foods for kids that boost brain development.
You may know that blueberries are a superfood – they are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals…but did you also know that they also protect mental function and memory, and fight free radicals that would do harm to your child’s brain. Blueberries are low in sugar, easy to take on the go, and delicious to boot! If someone in your home is a picky eater, try dipping some blueberries in yogurt and freezing them for a treat!
Broccoli is packed with beneficial nutrients that target brain function. They also contain vitamin C and fiber…which all children need. Try it raw with some ranch dressing, steamed with some cheese, or roasted with seasonings!
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a wonderful source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They are great for so many things, including brain health. While there are many choices, be sure to include walnuts and pumpkin seeds. They are especially high in vitamin B6 and zinc which are critical to cognitive development and function. Make up some trail mix to keep on hand and throw in some dried fruit and dark chocolate chips for additional taste and brain benefits!
Oily, Fatty Fish
Fatty, oily fish, like salmon, albacore tuna, and trout, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These are often mentioned in relation to heart health, but they also aid in the reproduction of brain cells. Have tuna salad with crackers, make your own fish sticks in an air fryer, or have some yummy fish tacos!
Eggs are an amazing source of protein, calcium, and iron. They also contain omega-3s and choline which are key for brain cell development. Make breakfast bagel bites with eggs, cheese, and bacon on mini bagels, bake a breakfast casserole with the meat of your choice, eggs, cheese, and tater tots, or have some deviled eggs!
What’s the big difference between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt? Greek yogurt has more protein and less sugar than its counterpart, and is loaded with all the things needed to boost brain development! Add some berries, dark chocolate chips, or nuts for a snack, use it to make a dip, make your own yogurt drops, or add some to a smoothie for extra benefits and a smooth texture!
What kid doesn’t love peanut butter?! Besides being delicious, it’s a good source of protein and antioxidants. It protects the brain and helps turn glucose into energy! Eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or use it as a dip for apples. A scoop of peanut butter is also a good addition to a smoothie!
Avocados are filled with healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins! They’re also extremely versatile, can be added to many different things, and can be easily hidden for picky eaters. Spread on toast in place of butter, add to a grilled cheese, or blend in a smoothie!
Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are loaded with iron, fiber, and folate – all of which are beneficial for the brain. Use them to build salads, hide in smoothies, or chop up and add to pasta sauces!
Whole grains are essential to use in place of white breads/higher carbohydrate foods. With whole grains, you’re getting fiber and B vitamins in place of simple carbs that will immediately turn to sugar. Choose cereals, tortillas, and breads made with whole grains, low sugar oatmeal with fruits for breakfast, or make your own pancakes, muffins, or cookies!
Additional Homeschool Resources
Naomi White graduated with her B.S. in Christian Elementary Education and went on to earn her Early Childhood Education certification. She has taught preschool and elementary school in both Christian and public schools. She loves to read and write, is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom, and is eagerly awaiting the day her son is old enough for them to start their own homeschool journey. Originally a Georgia girl, Naomi currently lives in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with her family.