Ever heard of how eating fish would make you smarter from your parents? Well, you are not alone. Many Asian children, whose parents are academically-focused, have heard this at least once in their lives. But does consuming fish make you smarter, or is it just a myth? What about other foods? This article seeks to find out.

Does consuming fish makes us smarter?

It does seem that this “myth” is true. Scientists have discovered that consuming omega-3 rich food can boost blood flow to the brain and improve performances in mental tasks. Oily fishes like sardine, tuna and mackerel are known to contain high levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. New research has found that omega-3 can also improve reaction times and reduce the level of tiredness in the brain after performing mentally arduous tasks. So, there you go, fish actually helps in your cognitive abilities. If, however, you do not like the taste of fish, omega-3 tablets are readily available in your nearest pharmacy. Fortunately, that is not your only option- there are a few other foods that claim to make you smarter.

Other foods

1.     Walnuts

Even though not as rich in omega-3 as oily fish, walnuts- specific omega-3 have been found to act as an antioxidant that can block signals to potentially brain-damaging free radicals. Research has also shown that walnut consumption may support brain health, inclusive of an improved inferential reasoning in young adults.

2.     Berries

In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2012, the neurological benefits of consuming berries were highlighted. This is due to the high levels of anti-oxidants that they contain, which have been proven to improve a host of mental abilities like reasoning, memory skills and even verbal and numerical comprehension!

3.     Leafy Green Vegetables

Chances are that you are already tired of being told to eat more green leafy vegetables, but guess what? You should probably eat more green leafy vegetables as they are a rich source of B vitamins. 3 B vitamins in particular – folic acid, B6 and B12 are essential brain vitamins. A study by Oxford University found out that these three B vitamins work together to improve your brain function by reducing its atrophy and dramatically reduce brain shrinkage in the part of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s.

Knowing the foods that are beneficial to your brain is important but it is equally important to know the foods that are harming your brain.

These foods (and drinks) are the ones that you should avoid if you want to improve your cognitive ability:

1.     Fruit juice

Opting for fruit juice instead of a soft drink may seem like a healthier option. But fruit juices are as big of a culprit as soft drinks in terms of sugar content- and that extra sugar content may negatively affect your brain function.  A 2015 study showed that mice subjected to high-sugar and high-fat diets had their short and long-term memory functions taking a hit as well as their cognitive flexibility- the ability to problem solve in the face of new information.

2.     Cheese

Food high in saturated fats may hurt your memory and cause inflammation in your brain. As shown by a 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, eating a high-fat diet would not only hurt your memory, but also your brain’s ability to regulate the food you take in, making you prone to obesity.

3.     Microwave popcorn

A 2014 study of 1000 men found participants who ate a high trans fats diet performed worse on memory tests than their control counterparts. Be careful though, not only microwave popcorn has high trans-fat, but also biscuits and fried fast food!

With all that knowledge about how your food you eat affects your brain power, use it wisely!