6 Foods to Help You Focus During Finals Week

We’re in the final stretch of school at the U of M, inching towards the finish line, and summer is waiting for us! The weather is finally acting the way it should, and spring fever is becoming infectious. Laying down for a nap in Northrop Mall is oh so tempting.

Trying to sit down and focus on finishing school work and studying for finals has become more difficult than usual with the sunshine calling your name, inviting you to come outside, leave the work for tomorrow and enjoy the weather.

To avoid this plague of spring fever and procrastination, fuel your body with these foods to help you increase your focus so you can finish your work and enjoy the lovely weather without the guilt of procrastinating.

1. Brain Boost with Fish

Fish have an enormous amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for your brain health. According to National Public Radio, “evidence shows that consumption of 8 or more ounces of seafood per week can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and some studies have linked a regular fish habit over a lifetime to a lower risk of cognitive decline as well.” A little help in the brain department is exactly what you’ll need when studying for that final exam you absolutely need to pass. Now, fish can get pretty pricey depending on where you go. I recommend going to your local grocery store and buying a pack of frozen filets. They can range from $8-$15, which is way cheaper than fresh fish. Also remember, the less batter and more fish, the better for you and your brain (steer clear of fish sticks).

2. Give me that Godiva!

Yes, you read correctly. Chocolate can help boost your focus. Dark chocolate (70 percent cacao or more) contains a healthy amount of antioxidants that resemble the effect of caffeine and enhance focus. Natalie Stephens, a clinical dietician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says, “Dark chocolate boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with greater concentration.” You probably already have a chocolate stash, but if not, almost every grocery, convenience and drug store sells chocolate. There’s also a wide variance in pricing depending on what brand is your bae.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are filled with antioxidants and have been proven to improve memory. According to WebMD, blueberries have been shown to help prevent memory loss diseases, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as improve muscle function. You can buy blueberries fresh or frozen at your local grocery store for $3-$5 depending on the season. There are also some amazingly scrumptious superfood smoothies available at the Coffman Jamba Juice that pack all the nutrients into one delicious beverage for only around $5. You won’t turn into Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka. I promise.

4. Walnuts and peanuts and cashews… oh my!

Nuts and seeds also contain antioxidants like Vitamin E, which will help you keep your beautiful brains as you get old. According to Health Fitness Revolution, nuts also contain protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which boost your brain function and health. A big 30 oz. container of mixed nuts at Target is around $14, but smaller bags of nuts can range from $1-$6 depending on where you go and how much you get. They’re the perfect little snack during your study breaks. Unsalted nuts are best but lightly salted will do.

5. Avocad-OH!

This lovely green fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) is a major player in the brain boosting game. It reduces plaque buildup and enhances blood flow, which makes your brain very happy, according to WebMD. Bonus: It helps lower your risk of heart disease. Double bonus: it lowers bad cholesterol. Make guacamole for a perfect pre-study snack, or if you don’t particularly like the taste of avocados, try this recipe for fudgy avocado brownies! You can’t even taste it but you still get all the nutrients. Avocados can be found in multiple grocery stores and cost between $2-$4 apiece. But be careful, they tend to go bad quickly if you buy them when they’re already ripe.

6. Green Tea me!

Before you reach for that second (or third) cup of coffee, stop! Green tea can be a perfect substitute. It has less caffeine than a cup of coffee, however, it won’t give you a withdrawal headache or the jitters. Those aren’t very good to have while you’re trying to finish a 15-page research paper in less than an hour! According to WebMD, Green tea isn’t processed very much before it's poured in your cup, so it's rich in catechins, which are antioxidants that fight, and may even prevent, cell damage in your brain. We don’t want damaged brain cells now do we? Don’t worry. You can still fulfill your Starbucks addiction at one of the many locations on-campus and off, like in Dinktown and on Washington Ave, but instead of getting your usual venti iced soy caramel macchiato with an extra shot of espresso and extra caramel drizzle, get a hot or iced green tea or green tea latte. It’s cheaper too.

Be strong! Don’t let the temptation of spring fever cloud your focus. Now isn’t the time of the semester to get behind. Down one of these amazingly nutritious, brain boosting focus foods and get back to work!