College Survival Snack Guide: Best Foods for Better Memory and Focus



At UCLA, exams are our constant companions. We’re low on sleep, high on stress, and generally hungry. Because food is important in college life and in general, it is essential to read up on the influence that food has on our well-being. Here are the top ten best foods that can help you improve your study game and excel in your focus and memory during exams!



Grape juice is a drink to consider for faster and sharper thinking, particularly in young adults. Polyphenol, an antioxidant found in purple grape juice, contributes to not only sharpened thinking, but also a calmer mood and lowered stress. So for improved attention and mood, try implementing grape juice into your diet. [1,2]



Almonds are full of goodness, such as vitamin E, zinc, and fiber. They are packed full of protein, which gives you the energy needed to do tasks, like problem-solving, more effectively. Protein is also involved in restoring brain cells, which means that almonds can aid in the improvement of your focus and memory. Likewise, cashews can offer similar benefits. [3,4, 5]



Bananas are low in fat and are a great source of fiber to keep you satiated. Vitamin B6 in bananas has been found to improve cognitive ability, especially memory, while magnesium in bananas has been associated with increased brain activity between nerves. This means that bananas could improve your brain processing! [6]



Apples can prevent your stress levels from spiking. They are full of an antioxidant called quercetin, which blocks the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Be sure to eat the fruit with the skin as that is where most of the quercetin comes from. [7, 8] Apples can also enhance your memory because they produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. [9]



Blueberries are tiny yet so incredibly rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and gallic acid, a phenol that is key to the health benefits of this berry. The antioxidants, which are disease-fighters, and gallic acid both contribute to a boost in memory, reasoning, focus, and your ability to work with numbers. [5, 10, 11]



Cherries are another dark berry with brain benefits. Cherries are filled with flavonoids, a plant compound. Foods that are rich in flavonoids, like cherries and blueberries, have been associated with improved memory abilities. [12, 13]






Caffeine, a stimulant in dark chocolate, gives you the energy and focus that you get from coffee. Dark chocolate also contains polyphenol antioxidants, iron, and magnesium. These stimulate increased blood and heart movement, which can improve your overall memory, problem-solving, and focus. [14, 5]



Eggs are a power breakfast food, loaded with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Eggs contain vitamin B12, which can reduce your tiredness by maintaining the functioning of the nervous system. [5]



Broccoli contains B9 and B12 vitamins. These vitamins can help maintain and improve your memory. Vitamin B12 is also involved in the production of energy. [15, 16]



Salmon is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. These omega-3s are especially powerful for improving concentration and attentiveness. Wild Alaskan salmon is a great choice as it contains a high amount of omega-3s. [17, 18]


References ▾

  1. “Cognitive and Mood Improvements Following Acute Supplementation With Purple Grape Juice…” Eur J Nutr. (2017).
  2. “The Polyphenol.” (2007).
  3. “Almonds: Health Benefits, Facts, Research.” (2016).
  4. “Do Almonds Help Memory?” (2014).
  5. “12 Best Brain Foods to Eat Before Taking a Test.” (2017).
  6. “Bananas as Brain Food.” (2012).
  7. “6 Benefits of Quercetin.” (2013).
  8. “How Much Quercetin Is in an Apple?” (2015).
  9. “Research Shows Benefits of Apple Juice on Neurotransmitter Affecting Memory.” (2006).
  10. “Antioxidants in Fruits.” (n/a).
  11. “7 Health Benefits of Blueberries.” (2014).
  12. “4 Types of Foods to Help Boost Your Memory.” (2016).
  13. “Best Brain Foods for a Healthier Brain.” (2006).
  14. “Dietary Levels of Pure Flavonoids Improve Spatial Memory Performance and Increase Hippocampal Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.” PLoS ONE. (2013).
  15. “Best Memory Vitamins: 13 Vitamins That Help Brain Memory.” (2017).
  16. “7 Best Natural Vitamins for Memory and Focus.” (2015).
  17. “Now for the brain course! Scientists prove you CAN eat your way to a sharper mind (and even beat dementia) with six key foods.” (2015).
  18. “Healthy Foods to Eat for Brain Power.” (n/a).

more in eat well