The holiday season is bittersweet for most Americans—we love to visit and celebrate with our families, but the unhealthy consequences of all the rich foods at those holiday feasts are always in the backs of our minds. But cheer up, Buckhead! You don’t have to regret everything you eat, because many of the classic American holiday dishes and treats can actually make you smarter! Check out this list of holiday treats that actually promote and enhance healthy brain function.
Candy Canes If you’re one of those lucky students with big exams around the holidays, or if you just need to buckle down and make some headway on your to-do list, find one of these classic holiday candies! Peppermint has been found to sharpen one’s focus and concentration, and even the scent of peppermint can boost performance on tedious and intricate tasks[i].
Where to Get a Deal*: Walgreens (Joybrite Candy Canes 12-32 ct, from $0.99; In Ad Coupon: Buy 2 Get 100 Points added to your card)
Deviled Eggs While the mayonnaise in this traditional family appetizer takes away from the physical health benefits of protein-rich eggs, you will at least get a brain boost from indulging! Eggs are very high in a nutrient called choline. This nutrient is essential to producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is needed for efficient and better brain function. The body’s natural production of choline decreases with age, so this snack is even more beneficial for those who are, ahem, blessed with the memory of many, many holidays past[ii].
Where to Get a Deal*: Aldi (Grade A Large, 1 dozen, $1.39)
Cranberries Besides making a rich and sweet holiday side dish (not to mention a delicious cocktail), cranberries are practically a superfood when it comes to antioxidants. We all know that antioxidants are good for heart health, but they also do remarkable things for the brain. Antioxidants protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals, and among that damage is a decline in memory and movement with age. The antioxidants in cranberries can help to protect your brain from that mental decline and help you to keep that brilliant mind of yours sharp for decades to come[iii].
Where to Get a Deal*: Aldi (Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberries, 12oz, $1.29)
Cherry Cheesecake We all remember our moms telling us to drink our milk so we could grow up big and strong, but little did Mom know, she was helping us grow up smart, too! Dairy foods (such as the cream cheese in a slice of oh-so-delicious cheesecake) are rich in protein and B vitamins, which not only give crucial energy to the brain, but are also essential to the healthy growth and production of brain tissue, enzymes, and neurotransmitters[iv]. And to make your dessert pack a bigger punch, top that cheesecake with some antioxidant-rich cherries.
Where to Get a Deal*: Kroger (Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 8 oz, $1.00)
This holiday season, when you sit down to your family feast and look out among all the sinfully delicious dishes, don’t just curse the cooks for forcing your waistline to duke it out with your taste buds. Thank them for making your brain stronger! And for more great articles about the brain (and more facts that you can whip out at your holiday dinner to impress the family), “like” LearningRx Atlanta-Buckhead** on Facebook!
*Prices may vary based on date and location. Data was retrieved from www.couponmom.com on 12/11/2012, based on data from Georgia stores.
** LearningRx brain training centers provide cognitive skills training that empowers anyone of any age to learn faster and easier. Tutoring and other programs reinforce WHAT students must learn (information). LearningRx brain training centers identify and strengthen the skills behind HOW students learn. We provide testing and life-changing training for students of all ages who desire to learn and read better for life. LearningRx Atlanta-Buckhead opened in March 2008 and expanded to the Alpharetta-Johns Creek area in October 2012.
[i] Health, M. (2012). MSN Healthy Living. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from Msn.com: http://healthyliving.msn.com/diseases/adhd/the-best-foods-for-focus-1#1
[ii] Mao Shing Ni, L. D. (2011, July 21). 6 Top Foods for Brain Health. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from The Dr. Oz Show: www.doctoroz.com/blog/mao-shing-ni-lac-dom-phd/6-top-foods-brain-health
[iii] Staff, P. (2003, December 1). FoodnMood: Turkey Saves the Brain. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from Psychology Today: www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200312/foodnmood-turkey-saves-the-brain
[iv] Dees, D. K. (2012, April 4). Food for Thought: Food Nutrition for the Brain. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from Biotech Pharmacal: www.biotechpharmacal.com/2012/04/food-for-though-good-nutrition-for-the-brain/?understand=true