Let’s set the scene: You’ve barely made it past lunchtime without nodding off at least 15 times at your desk, but your Slack DMs are blowing up with messages from your coworkers about an EOD deadline you need to meet. Stress-induced panic commencing in 3, 2, 1.
Naturally, when we can’t seem to keep our eyelids open no matter how hard we try, our first instinct is to crank on our fave coffee machine and brew up an extra-large latte. However, as much as we can’t live without coffee, another serving of jitter-inducing java might be the last thing we need. Registered dietitian Sarah Maver, MPH, RD, director of wellness and sustainability at Chartwells K12, agrees—and adds that it’s smarter to snack on something that’ll help you feel energized and focused rather than just defaulting to caffeine.
Here, Maver shares the five best types of brain-boosting snacks that can help with concentration and cognitive functioning to keep top of mind (ha!) and pantry. Plus, the exact products you can find in her shopping cart that are available on Amazon.
5 best types of brain-boosting snacks, according to a registered dietitian
Aside from a great breakfast option, oats are also an ideal brain-boosting snack to eat throughout the day. “Whole grains like oats are packed with complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, and fiber. These nutrients provide a steady release of energy for our brain, which can help with memory and concentration,” Maver says.
One of her favorite ways to eat hearty oats is by topping a bowl of oatmeal with nuts and berries for an extra boost of protein and antioxidants. Fortunately, oats are a great source of essential nutrients that ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
And if you’re wondering what’s in Maver’s shopping cart, these are the four options she likes the most, which range from 100 percent whole-grain oats to heart-healthy organic quick oats to steel-cut oats with about four grams of fiber per quarter-cup serving.
Feel like you’re constantly asking Siri to remind you of your daily to-do list, and your memory could use a little boost? A handful of nuts (and, you know, a stack of Post-It Notes) might be all you need. “Nuts such as walnuts are a great snack that can help improve memory. They are a super source of antioxidants, vitamin E, and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain health,” Maver says.
Though many types of healthy nut options (like almonds) can help slow memory loss for those with chronic illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, Maver adds that she gravitates towards walnuts (pro tip: store them in the fridge to prevent your nuts from going rancid).
ICYMI, we recently predicted that the tinned fish market would make a big splash in 2023, and the trend already shows no signs of stopping. That’s because canned seafood is convenient, heart-healthy, and sustainable—not to mention the fact that it’s one of Maver’s top brain-boosting foods.
“Salmon is a fatty fish that’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for brain health. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon support brain growth, can help boost memory, and have been shown to slow age-related cognitive decline,” Maver says.
Looking for something sweet? Maver recommends eating berries to satisfy your sweet tooth while boosting your brain health. “Colorful berries like blueberries contain helpful plant compounds called anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that support brain health and improve memory and concentration,” she says.
An easy way to incorporate berries into a snack, especially if you’re busy working, is by blending it into a smoothie, like this Blue Zone-inspired blueberry smoothie. Or, you can also opt for dried versions to add on top of salads or turn it into a DIY trail mix to snack on throughout the day.
One way Maver likes to stay focused is by consuming plenty of fiber throughout the day. “Chickpeas and other beans provide fiber, helping you feel fuller longer after eating and boosting concentration. Packed with nutrients like vitamins, omega fatty acids, and fiber that support brain health, roasted chickpeas also make a great crunchy snack,” she says.
Cheers to this brain-boosting herbal shot for longevity: