5 Foods that Make You Smarter

Get your brains in tip-top shape with these cognitive-powering foodsGet your brains in tip-top shape with these cognitive-powering foodsPhrases like "eat your carrots, they're good for your eyes" are common in almost every household with kids. While there may be truth to that statement, and other benefits of eating carrots, sayings like these can often fall on deaf ears because it seems that every food is responsible for something -"eat spinach to grow strong like Popeye" and "drink milk for strong bones."

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The truth is that eating fruits and vegetables is good for you, plain and simple. And eating a variety is even better, so your body can get all of the nutrients and vitamins it needs to operate at its optimal level. The best part is that most foods offer a two-for-one deal, if you will. Carrots, for example, may help not only your eyes, but also your brain. And it turns out that if kale or kale chips have become recent staples in your kitchen, they might be doing more good for you than you think.

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So, if there's a time when focusing on brain power or energy is a must, say while studying for the bar exam or the GMATs, it might not hurt to increase your intake of healthy foods that have been linked to improving brain productivity and function. Granted, some are meant for long-term health rather than short-term, but it really can't hurt to tackle both ends of the spectrum when it comes to health.

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To find out more about the connection between our brains and food, we turned to nutritionist Kelly Aronica. Check out what she has to say and which foods you might want to start incorporating into your diet.

Carrots

Also found in spinach, red peppers, and summer squashes, B vitamins, according to Aronica, help manufacture and release chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. "The nervous system relies on neurotransmitters to communicate messages within the brain, such as those that regulate mood, hunger, and sleep."

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Yogurt

Vitamin B12, often referred to as the "memory vitamin," is only found naturally in animal foods, so Aronica suggests vegans should be careful to use supplements. As she explains, its integrally involved in nerve function and found in yogurts, cheeses, salmon, shrimp, and beef.

Spinach or Kale

"I'd list dark leafy greens (spinach is probably my top choice, or kale) as one of the top foods for brain health," says Aronica. She explains that the huge antioxidant punch is the main benefit for the brain, but they are also powerhouses overall in terms of vitamin and mineral content.

Green Tea

Green tea is not only a great source of antioxidants, but it also provides a hefty amount of caffeine, which is good for coffee-turned-tea drinkers. Aronica adds that research has shown caffeine to improve cognitive function, focus, and concentration. Coffee and chocolate also have antioxidants, but probably aren't as strong of a source as green tea.

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Eggs

With the conflicting evidence about egg yolks (Good for you? Bad for you?), Aronica says that for brain functions, they're not to be ignored. Choline, a building block from the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine, is involved in memory and is found in eggs, specifically the yolk.

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-Yasmin Fahr, The Daily Meal