Instant IQ. Ace your next test with snacks that feed your brain

It’s 11:00 PM and you’re cramming for your 8:00 AM chemistry exam. That super hard one. And it’s the first time you’ve opened your textbook. You need an energy boost ASAP to get through three more chapters. All these molecules and equations and charts and little Thinking_out_of_the_box_3
numbers on the page are making you hungry. What munchies will you reach for to help you burn the midnight oil and ace that test?

I know what you’re thinking – grab another slice of that greasy pepperoni pizza or maybe dial up Freebirds and get a plate-load of steak-nachos, and wash it all down with a supersize can of energy drink. (What is it, like your fourth can today?)

Before you reach your hand into that bag of chips, try to remember just a little bit from your Chemistry lecture. Different foods, different molecules, and different chemicals can affect your body differently. That means not all snacks are made equally. While some snacks can make you crash and burn, some snacks can actually give you a much needed brain boost! With a little pre-study preparation, you can study more effectively and give your brain more power with brain friendly food. Bet you never thought chemistry could be this much fun.


Sure, coffee is an instant and effective pick-me-up, but the crash from coffee is sometimes too difficult to recover from. Instead, drink a beverage with vitamin C to improve your mental agility, such as orange juice. Does your dorm or apartment come equipped with the ever-elusive blender? If so, try mixing orange juice, soy ice cream and strawberries together for a filling, less fattening, and vitamin C rich alternative to your local juice bar’s smoothie.

Additionally, some scents are rumored to increase memory and concentration. Peppermint and cinnamon are among these scents. Drink some herbal, non-caffeinated Peppermint Tea while you study, and you’ll have memorized the entire Periodic Table in no time.

Make sure you are drinking enough water! Dehydration can cause fatigue: definitely not conducive to studying. You can’t afford to dose off to sleep right now. So put down that sugary, caffeinated energy drink and go get a tall glass of water. Your brain and your wallet will thank you.


Make sure you’re eating whole wheat products. Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and folic acid found in whole wheat goodies are known to increase memory. Try a whole wheat pita with Hummus dip. You’ll get the vitamins you need to increase memory, as well as a protein and iron boost. Quick pop quiz – how many electrons does iron have? Don’t worry. We’re just teasing.

Omega-3 fatty acids are famous for maintaining a healthy brain. For your late night study sessions, buy a can of tuna and mix in some pickles and light mayo to dip crackers in. Or, go to Trader Joe’s and pick up a slab of salmon, and bake it will a little lemon juice and olive oil for continued brain power throughout the semester.

Pumpkin Seeds are high in iron, and a good source of zinc, which enhances thinking abilities. The Isla Vista Co-Op sells them in bulk, and they make for a healthier and smarter alternative to greasy potato chips while studying. Or try some cereal with Pumpkin seeds in them.

Studies have shown that blueberries improve motor skills and thinking abilities. They are also high in anthocyanins, which give you the energy you need to study for hours on end. Pour some skim milk over a half a cup of blueberries for a yummy snack.

Avocado’s monounsaturated fat helps blood flow in your brain. Try it as a spread on a sandwich instead of mayo, and you’ll be powering through those last couple of chapters no problem.

When you’re trying to study, stay away from refined flour and sugar. They make blood sugar rise and burn quickly, leaving you feel tired as they are digested. Stick to whole grains for steady fuel.

With these brain power boosting snack ideas, your midnight study sessions should be more productive. So, take another sip of water, grab a handful of pumpkin seeds, and hit those books. With any luck, you’ll be acing that test. Good luck!

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