10 Brain Foods for Kids
Naturally fatty fish are a good source of vitamin D and omega-3s, which protect the brain against cognitive decline and memory loss. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are all rich in omega-3s.
"The more omega-3s we can get to the brain, the better it will function and the better kids will be able to focus," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It.
How to Serve It: Grill it, roast it, or add it to a salad or sandwich.
6. "Clean" Meat
"Animal fat is where pesticides and antibiotics are stored. A high toxic load can contribute to brain fog," Lagano says. For better behavior and focus, choose meats (and other foods) that are free of artificial ingredients, dyes, flavoring, preservatives, and sweeteners.
How to Serve It: Ditch deli sandwich meat for preservative-free roast beef left over from last night's "clean" dinner.
7. Nuts and Seeds
Packed with protein, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals, nuts and seeds may boost mood and keep your nervous system happy.
How to Serve It: Spread sunflower seed butter -- rich in folate, vitamin E, and selenium -- on a whole-grain cracker or bread. Or make pesto: Nuts combined with olive oil and dark leafy greens make a healthful sauce for whole-grain pasta.
Protein- and fiber-rich oatmeal helps keep heart and brain arteries clear. In one study, kids who ate sweetened oatmeal did better on memory-related academic tasks than those who ate a sugary cereal.
How to Serve It: Add cinnamon. Compounds in the spice may protect brain cells, preliminary research shows.
9. Apples and Plums
Kids often crave sweets, especially when they're feeling sluggish. Apples and plums are lunchbox-friendly and contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may fight cognitive decline, according to lab studies.
How to Serve It: The good stuff is often in the skin of fruit, so buy organic and wash well.
"The curcumin in turmeric can actually make the brain grow," Ramsey says. He says studies show curcumin fights inflammation and blocks Alzheimer's plaque formation.
How to Serve It: Visit an Indian restaurant or experiment with Indian recipes. Even if your child just eats the puri (fried bread), they'll likely get some curcumin benefits and be primed to be more adventurous eaters.