Here comes that dreaded tax deadline. With the day of reckoning nearly upon us, it's time to sharpen up the mind (and the pencil) in preparation for the daunting task ahead of us.
Sleep and healthy eating are the most efficient ways to improve cognition and keep the brain functioning at peak potential. We can't get you to to bed earlier, but we can improve your diet, so you can improve your tax return. Here are five healthy (and tasty) foods that will boost brain function:
Blueberry season doesn't start for at least another month. But frozen blueberries, preferably organic, can be found in the freezer at your friendly neighborhood grocery store. Pick up a bag or three of this supercharged food... your brain will thank you. Blueberries, when eaten on a regular basis, improve memory and reverse age-related declines in motor function, balance and coordination. They're high in antioxidants, which help prevent certain diseases. And best of all, blueberries are delicious. Throw them in cereal. Mix them with yogurt or oatmeal. Blend them into a tasty smoothie. Just remember to floss before crunching the numbers.
Salmon is rich in protein, Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, the last of which helps the brain develop tissue to increase brain power, particularly memory and performance. Salmon also helps fight Alzheimer's disease and other age-related cognitive disorders... yet another perk. It can be eaten raw in sushi, in a salad or sandwich (like tuna) and even seared and served with cold peanut noodles. But remember to have an early dinner, because those taxes won't do themselves.
Now who isn't turning cartwheels over this one? Coffee has caffeine which is actually good for the brain if ingested in moderation. Regular coffee drinking has been shown to reduce the risk of Dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other mental disorders. Caffeine also contains antioxidants. No need to feel bad about a freshly brewed cup to get you through that stack of receipts. Drinking coffee in moderation is perfectly fine, just avoid excessive cream, sugar or syrups.
Here's another lucky break for all of us with a sweet tooth. While chocolate expands waistlines, it also expands brain function. Dark chocolate is antioxidant-rich and improves focus and concentration. Milk chocolate boosts memory and reaction time. Grate some chocolate into your milk or other drinks. Make a chicken mole sauce with chiles and chocolate. Eat a small chunk for dessert. Or just keep a bag of miniatures nearby... a little chocolate therapy to alleviate the stress of taxes.
The incredible edible egg... it truly is. Eggs are so easy to prepare: fried, scrambled, whipped into omelets and frittatas, mixed into egg salad and even hard-boiled, to eat on the go. Though we don't recommend drinking them raw, Rocky style. Easy to find and easy to prepare, eggs, specifically the yolks, are rich in choline, an essential nutrient to improving memory function.
Alma Schneider is a licensed Clinical Social Worker helping individuals overcome their psychological and practical obstacles to cooking and parenting on her blog and consulting business, Take Back the Kitchen. She is a native New Yorker transplanted to the suburbs with her husband, four children and loving yet stubborn Beagle Shiloh.