Brain Food for Kids: 7 Top Foods for Brain Development

Feeding your children nutritious food is critical for their brain development. We know that providing the healthiest environment for your child is important to you. To help, we'll highlight the best brain food for kids with dish and snack ideas. With a little planning each week, you can ensure your kids eat the best foods for their brain development.

7 Best Brain Food for Kids

Diet is critical to brain development for kids and adolescents. It's important to offer a variety of nutritious foods to kids and encourage them to try new foods. Here are 7 of the best brain foods for kids:

1. Eggs

We know eggs are pricey right now, but they're worth it. Eggs are a great food for boosting brain function in kids because they contain vital nutrients and vitamins that improve memory, tissue repair, and cognitive function. Eggs are rich in:

  • Choline
  • Protein
  • B vitamins
  • Healthy fats
  • Antioxidants

By incorporating eggs into a balanced diet, kids can get the nutrients they need to grow and develop. Hard-boiled eggs make a convenient and portable snack, while scrambled or fried eggs are kid favorites for breakfast. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that children and adults should eat one egg per day as part of a healthy diet.

2 Seafood

Seafood is chalk full in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven beneficial for kids' brain function. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are some of your best sources of rich omega-3 fatty acids and can improve children's cognitive function, attention, and mood. Seafood is also a good source for:

  • Protein
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iodine
  • Zinc

The American Heart Association says eating fish at least twice a week, especially fatty fish. A good serving size of fish for kids is 3 ounces. Be aware it's important to choose fish that are low in mercury and to limit the intake of fish with high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

3. Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens are high in vitamins, fiber, and minerals, such as iron, folate, and vitamins K and A, which are essential for brain health. They can help boost mood, memory, and cognitive function. Leafy greens contain antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect the brain from oxidative stress.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests serving lots of fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, at every meal. A general guideline is to aim for at least 1-2 servings of vegetables per day for young children and 2-3 servings for older children. Leafy greens can be added to soups, salads, sandwiches, and smoothies or can be steamed or sautéed as a side dish.

4. Lean beef

Lean beef is a great protein source that can build and repair tissues in the body, including the brain. Protein is also important for maintaining cognitive function and attention. Lean beef also contains:

  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • B vitamins

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests serving a variety of protein sources, including lean beef, at every meal. A good serving size for kids is about 2 ounces. It's important to choose lean cuts of beef. Ground beef can be used in various dishes, such as tacos, meatloaf, and spaghetti sauce.

 

mom feeding her kid yogurt

 

5. Yogurt

Another solid source of protein and calcium is yogurt. Calcium helps transmit nerve impulses, which are essential for cognitive function. Many types of yogurt also contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that help with digestive health and boost the immune system. 

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Related Link: Introducing Solids to Baby Guide for Parents

Kids should get 2-3 servings of dairy each day. Yogurt can be enjoyed as a snack, dessert, or added to smoothies, oatmeal, or other dishes for added flavor and nutrition. You'll want to choose plain, low-fat yogurt and avoid yogurts that are high in sugar and artificial ingredients.

6. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and proteins, which help form brain cells and transmit nerve impulses. Nuts and seeds contain vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc, boosting memory and cognitive function.

The American Heart Association recommends that children get 1/4 to 1 ounce of nuts or seeds per day. Nuts and seeds can be enjoyed as a snack or used as nut butters like peanut butter. You should also choose unsalted and unroasted nuts and seeds to limit the amount of sodium and added oils.

7. Beans

Besides protein, Beans are a good source of fiber, iron, folate, and magnesium. These minerals help boost oxygen to the brain, while folate helps produce neurotransmitters that enhance mood, memory, and cognitive function. Some types of beans, like black beans, are full of antioxidants, which help protect the brain from oxidative stress.

The USDA recommends that children get 1/4 to 1 cup of beans per day. Beans can be used in a variety of dishes, such as chili, burritos, stews, soups, or salads, or as a side dish or snack. It's important to choose low-sodium varieties and to rinse canned beans well to reduce the sodium content.

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Related Link: Advice for New Parents: 5 Things You Need to Know

 

family making food together

What Brain Food Helps Kids Focus?

Here are some brain foods that can help improve focus and attention in children:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Blueberries
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Leafy greens
  • Protein
  • Water

It's also important to remember that a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and regular exercise can help improve children's focus and attention. 

What are the Best Brain Food Snacks for Kids?

Here are some nutritious and tasty snacks that can boost brain function in children:

  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • Yogurt with berries
  • Trail mix
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Hummus with veggies
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Tuna or chicken salad on whole grain crackers:
  • Frozen grapes or berries

It's important to offer a variety of nutritious snacks to kids and to encourage them to try new foods. 

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