5 Foods To Get You Through Exams

Summer exam season has returned meaning one thing only – STRESS.  Before you’ve even opened a book, you’re faced with the task of finding a space in the library (virtually impossible any time after 10am). There’s no avoiding exams and deadlines, this is further education after all. But, incorporating some stress busting foods into your diet might just help you pass the year without going insane.


It’s natural to crave carbs when you’re stressed out, so don’t deny the craving, just choose wisely. Research has shown that carbohydrates can help the brain produce serotonin, the same substance regulated by anti-depressants, helping to boost your mood when the weight of exams is dragging you down. Stress can cause your blood sugar to rise, so a complex carb like oats won't contribute to your already potential spike in blood glucose. Start the day with an energising bowl porridge - look at Instagram for topping/flavour inspiration. Or blend your oats into smoothies if you’re in a rush.


Bacteria in your gut might also be contributing to stress on top of your exams. Research shows that the brain signals to the gut, which is why stress can make gastrointestinal symptoms worse. A UCLA study among 36 healthy women revealed that consuming probiotics in yogurt reduced brain activity in areas that handle emotion, including stress compared to people who consumed yogurt without probiotics or no yogurt at all. More research is needed but considering yogurt is full of calcium and protein, in addition to probiotics, you can't go wrong by adding more of it to your diet.


Probably the healthiest revision snack to nibble on in the library. The best types? Pistachios are rich in potassium, providing over 250mg per 30g serving and research suggests that taking a handful of these nuts every day has benefits in reducing stress-associated rises in blood pressure. Almonds are full of helpful vitamins too. Vitamin E to boost your immune system, plus a range of B vitamins, which will help your body to be more resilient during bouts of stress because no one wants to ill on top of everything else during exam season!​


As well as it’s antioxidants, chocolate has an undeniable link to mood. A recent study from the University of California reports that both women and men eat more chocolate as depressive symptoms increase. Rewarding yourself with a 300g bar of dairy milk after every day of revision probably isn’t the best way to interpret this advice, but there's solid scientific evidence that in moderation, chocolate does actually make you feel less stressed. The catch? It’s dark chocolate in particular which will have these calming effects.

Green tea

Instead of wasting your student loan on coffee, make green tea your new addiction during exam season. Whilst it does contain some caffeine, the polyphenol it also contains will help to combat anxiety and stress. Researchers at the University of Illinois say that green tea enhances mental performance too, another reason to ditch the coffee during exams.

Edited by Susan Akyeampong