The tell tale signs of summer are here – midges at dusk ganging up against anyone entering their domain, devil-may-care fashion faux pas of socks with sandals and shorts with a jacket and, of course, the shell-shocked look of teenagers as they wade through the exam season.

At least for the latter there is the relief of closing the last page of the last exam and enjoying the bliss of a long and hopefully hot summer but then the wait for results can be extremely stressful for both teenagers and family.

Of course, hard work, revision and a bit of luck with the questions count for a lot but whatever age you are and whatever test you’re taking, studies are increasingly confirming that what you eat can make a difference.

You might not think of the brain as using much energy compared to your major limb muscles and core but that’s not the case. Despite accounting on average for just 2% of body weight, the brain has a high metabolic rate, burning through 20% of oxygen – and hence calories – consumed by the body. 

Lack of calories leads to fatigue and brain fade so how can we avoid that? Well thankfully, it isn’t all about broccoli and kale – though it’s certainly true that cruciferous greens provide key antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can boost brain health, and please see the picture!

Porridge for slow energy release or eggs that prevent brain shrinkage and cognitive decline make a good start to the day.

Oily fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel provide omega-3 which has been shown to increase blood flow in the brain and boost thinking abilities.

Snacks can help through any testing time and the good news is chocolate isn’t all bad. In fact  dark chocolate, made with 70% or more cacao can  reduce brain stress and  has other brain-boosting benefits. Berries carry similar benefits whilst nuts and seeds  are an excellent source of vitamin E to improve cognition – with  sunflower seeds, almonds and hazelnuts all rated highly by nutritionists. Coffee has also been shown to boost concentration and memory.

The most important thing of all is to eat something, you need your brain focussing on the questions, not hunger pangs.

SK offers a wide range of foods in handy packs that can provide a main meal refuel or on the go snack boost, leaving you with one less thing to stress about.

The various different chicken dishes in our oriental range provide a protein boosting meal whilst beetroot, kale and quinoa falafel or cheese and pickle bites will keep you going through the day, and our range of dips and sauces will brighten up the most boring of vegetables, cruciferous or otherwise.

Hydration is also very important for brain power and you should top up throughout the day, not just when you feel thirsty. So, keep plenty of water on hand – leave the champagne for celebrating or commiserating after the exams.

About Jane Beesley
Development & Innovations Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.