Brain Boosting Foods for Kids + Easy Recipes

Handful of berries in children's hands

Brain Boosting Foods for Kids + Easy Recipes

Nutrition for your children has a direct effect on IQ, learning, concentration, sleep, and behavior. Just as athletes eat a diet to win, children can eat to learn. Foods that contain antioxidants, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates are all particularly helpful in boosting brain power.

Here are some of my food tips to give your children a brain-power boost and some of my favorite recipes!

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Brain Boosting Foods for Kids: Blueberries

Blueberries have the highest concentration of antioxidants compared to any other fruits or vegetables. Blueberries contain powerful anthocyanins, which the Tufts University has connected with improved short term memory performance and attention to tasks. A study showed superior memory test results for kids consuming blueberries compared to children that are not consuming berries.(2, 3)

The benefits of regular berry consumption also extend to adults with berry consumption being linked to decreasing the aging process potentially preventing dementia. These are a great sweet treat that kids either love or with a little effort will learn to love. (1)

The benefits of blueberries can be enjoyed year round with frozen blueberries, which tend to be cheaper and do not lose their potency.

Pineapple Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

Granola with fresh fruits, chia and sesame seeds served in a bowl on concrete background.

INGREDIENTS

  • Serves 1, double to serve a teen or very hungry kid
  • 3/4 cup of frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup of milk of choice

DIRECTIONS

  • Add frozen pineapple and blueberries to the blender and blend on low speed until fruit is cut into very small chunks (about the size of a grain of rice).
  • Add optional kids protein powder and milk and continue to blend until nice and smooth.
  • Scoop into a bowl, add top with blueberries, chia seeds and almonds.

Purple Power Shake

Healthy diet forest berry smoothie with chia seeds.

INGREDIENTS

  • Serves 1-2
  • ½ cup of blueberries or blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • ½ medium banana
  • 1 cup of chilled water or milk of choice

DIRECTIONS

  • Blend on high for 30-60 seconds.

Brain Boosting Foods for Kids: Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a good source of omega-3. They are also high in antioxidants and minerals and vitamins–perfect support for brain health. Nuts also are a good source of vitamin E, which protects brain cell membranes from free radical damage. (4) Walnuts are particularly beneficial for brain health with very high concentrations of DHA, a type of omega 3 acid which has been shown to improve cognitive performance. (5) Just ¼ cup of walnuts delivers 100% of the recommended daily intake of DHA. Cashews and sunflower seeds contain amino acids that helps boost serotonin levels and relieve stress.

Try this yummy walnut recipe:

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Walnut + Date Energy Balls

energy granola bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of chopped dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • Optional 1/2 cup of roughly chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS

  • Place oats into food processor or blender and pulverize.
  • Add other ingredients and and pulse until combined.
  • Divide into 8 portions and roll into balls.

Brain Boosting Foods for Kids: Avocados

Besides being my favorite food, avocados are one of the best foods you can give your child to improve their overall health. Packed with good monounsaturated fats, avocados can aid in keeping blood sugar levels steady and can help improve both memory and cognitive function. (6) The creaminess of avocados make them the perfect smoothie add in. My kids love to eat avocado in guacamole and as a topping for healthy toast.

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Super Nutrient Chocolate Milk

Vegan avocado chocolate smoothie with almond nuts

INGREDIENTS

  • Serves 1-2
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
  • 1 cup of chilled water or milk of choice

DIRECTIONS

  • Blend on high for 60 seconds to make really frothy.
  • Serve immediately.

Brain Boosting Foods for Kids: Beets

The thought of feeding your kids beets may seem scary, but with such amazing health benefits it’s worth the try. Just don’t feed them beets in white clothes! Beets contain vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, manganese, folate, soluble fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. (7) These nutrient powerhouses have many benefits such as boosting natural energy levels, preventing inflammation and increasing blood flow to the brain which helps with mental performance.

Here are 2 great kid approved beet recipes.

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Beet Bounty Balls

Homemade vegan coconut beetroot energy balls

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups of shredded coconut
  • 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste.
  • 1 tablespoon of raw beetroot

DIRECTIONS

  • Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined.
  • Roll into balls, extra coconut for dusting is optional. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Beet Brain Booster Smoothie

Close Up of Healthy Fresh Beet Juice

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of water or milk of choice
  • 1/4 raw beet
  • 1/2 raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)

DIRECTIONS

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

This is a great way to boost brain power before school.

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Brain Boosting Foods for Kids: Dark, Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables

Spinach and leafy greens like kale, chard, romaine and collards, are rich in folate, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium. All of these nutrients are essential to increasing your brain power. Also, they contain carotenoids which are powerful brain protectors.

While getting your children to eat lots of greens may often seem incredibly difficult, there are some simple ways to do it. My kids’ favorite is including some greens into a smoothie or shake. Here’s a great smoothie recipe they will love:

Green Smoothie

Green smoothies with kale, banana and lemon

INGREDIENTS

  • Serves 2
  • 1/2 cup of mango
  • 1/2 cup of banana
  • 1 cup of coconut water
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted macadamia nuts (can substitute with cashews)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup of ice

DIRECTIONS

  • Blend on high until smooth.

PRO TIP: School mornings are crazy, so I like to do our green smoothie prep ahead of time. Simply layer all the fresh ingredients a mason jar, put on the lid and freeze. Then, take the jar out 15 minutes before you want to make your shake to slightly thaw. Place ingredients in the blender with your optional protein powder and liquid. Healthy food can be fast too.

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Brain Boosting Foods for Kids: Oats

Oats are complex carbohydrates which provide fuel that the brain needs. This is opposed to simple sugars (pop drinks, candy, etc.) that create blood sugar highs and lows which are not good for concentration and sustained energy. Complex carbohydrates have fiber and provide a slower, steadier release of energy to your child. Also, the complex carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which the brain needs to function. Most importantly, this slow release helps stabilize blood sugars and maintain concentration and attention. Oats are also full of B vitamins and folate, which have a strong link to increased memory function.

Here are two amazing breakfast or snack recipes that feature oats:

Super Nutrition Pancakes

Banana Oat Pancakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 4 scoops of protein powder

DIRECTIONS

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on medium speed until combined. Then cook on a hot griddle and enjoy.

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Creamy Raspberry Breakfast Shake

Fruit smoothie with raspberries

INGREDIENTS

  • Serves 1-2 for breakfast
  • 4 scoops of strawberry flavored protein powder
  • ½ cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 avocado (optional)
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats (gluten-free if needed)
  • 5 cubes of ice
  • 1 cup water or milk of choice

DIRECTIONS

  • Blend on high for 30-60 seconds.

Brain Boosting Foods for Kids: Water/ Hydration

Not drinking enough water has detrimental effects on our brains. And when your body lacks water, brain cells and other neurons shrink and biochemical processes involved in cellular communication can slow. Water is great for memory sharpness and to help keep moods stable. Dehydration makes children listless, lethargic, and irritable. Therefore, get them to drink plenty of water and snack on high water-content foods like cucumber, watermelon, carrots, celery and tomatoes.

MOMS: Just as a side note . . .

Exercise is such an important part of keeping our bodies healthy and this includes our brain! Exercise keeps our brains sharp and improving cognitive functioning. Above all, aerobic exercise improves task performance and increases the ability to process information more quickly.

About the Author /

Kate has a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science and is our Baby Chick Fitness expert. As a fitness professional with countless years of experience helping women transform their bodies, Kate gives moms the tools needed to reach their health goals.

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