Apr 17, 2011

Brain food–ideal snacks for effective studying

Doreen Burke and Negar Sharafi-

It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting better, college is out, and the summer horizon is just a stone ’s throw away. The only thing between us and endless days of hazy boredom is the small matter of exams. Unless you are one of the lucky few who actually turned up to college during the year, you will no doubt be struggling to pass the exams in mad fits cramming and sleepless nights. Time is one of the most important components to proper exam preparation so it is important that food doesn’t eat (haha) up a huge chunk of it. We’ve compiled a list of some “brain foods” as well as simple and nutritious recipes that don’t cost too much time or require hours and hours sifting through the cookery books!


It is a good idea to carry with you a few healthy snacks to keep you away from mid-study crisps or chocolate bars. Dried fruits (especially raisins) and nuts in your bag, fresh apples, pears, grapes, bananas etc are all a good idea. Here is a recipe for flapjacks, bursting with energy giving oats and sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth.

200g unsalted butter/margarine
1 tbsp golden syrup
200g soft brown sugar
250g porridge oat flakes
Optional: Handfuls of sesame seeds, raisins, linseeds. chopped apricots, toasted mixed nuts or a tsp of spices such as cinnamon or ginger all add that special something.
These flapjacks are so versatile and perfect for a healthy(ish) snack and a cuppa.

Preheat the oven to 150°C, Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the syrup and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats and other optional ingredients. Spoon the mixture into a baking tin (shallow 20x30cm lined with greaseproof paper). When done, cut into squares straightaway and leave to cool.
Drizzle with melted chocolate for more energy giving goodness!!

If you’re a chocoholic like most of us are, you’ll be relieved to hear that not all chocolate is bad. Chocolate with more than 70% cocoa contains caffeine and also make you happy, so a few pieces as a snack are totally fine.

Smoothies are magical. Not only can they cure hangovers, but if you use they right ingredients, they can also help you study (seriously!). Try bananas and blueberries (frozen berries work perfectly and contain even more nutrients) mixed with low-fat yogurt, maybe topped with some roasted almonds or hazelnuts if you like. This combination will not only make you happy (bananas), but also help you concentrate and memorise all that stuff you need to know for your exams. Now all you need to do is add a bowl of porridge for the perfect breakfast and you’re ready for a long day in the library.

Studying at home and don’t want to spend time cooking? Here’s a quick lunch that will keep you going when you really can’t afford to get away from those books for a long time. Mash up a ripe avocado, add some lemon juice, salt and pepper and chopped up onions if you like for an easy guacamole, perfect on whole-wheat or rye bread for some extra brain power. For a bigger lunch or dinner, this guacamole is also great as an accompaniment with fish, such as salmon or smoked mackerel (Lidl stocks cheap and tasty cooked fish in the cold meats/dairy section) which contain healthy fats that help you study. t somewhat healthily and eat the right foods to keep you sustained throughout library marathons.  

Of course exams are important and all of us will need to be doing some degree of cramming the coming weeks but don’t forget to keep your brain and body fuelled by eating well. Even though exam time is stressful and ready-made meals are more tempting than ever, try to eat somewhat healthily and eat the right foods to keep you sustained throughout library marathons.

Sign Up to Our Weekly Newsletters

Get The University Times into your inbox twice a week.